Ana escapes with victory

Ana escapes with victory

Ana completed a phenomenal comeback as she recovered from a set and a 5-4 deficit to beat world No.114 Christina McHale 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the third round of the US Open in New York. It was far from a polished performance by the 25-year-old but, despite hitting 51 unforced errors during the contest, she showed great determination and fighting spirit to wrap up victory after two hours and 26 minutes.
 
Ana entered the match holding a 2-0 lead in the head-to-head series but it was McHale who made the better start on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The American took a 3-1 advantage, although Ana had multiple game opportunities in three of those four games.
 
The 25-year-old was far too erratic during the opening set and she was unable to undo the early break deficit. After Ana had saved two set points in game ten, McHale was successful on the third occasion and clinched the set.
 
The home crowd favorite quickly enforced a break of serve early in the second set. This time, Ana immediately responded and re-broke her opponent to love, before getting her nose in front for the first time in the match in the following game.
 
At 4-4, Ana dropped her service game for a third time in the set, which gave the American the opportunity to serve for the match shortly later. The 13th seed now finally showed some aggression in her groundstrokes and confidently attacked the McHale serve, which resulted in a pair of classy return winners. With her back against the wall, she leveled the set at 5-5.
 
McHale maintained her focus despite failing to serve it out and she wangled two break points in the next game. Crucially, Ana got rid of both and surged into a 6-5 lead. She saw her chance as the American was making more mistakes at this stage of the match and she took advantage, reeling off three games to force the match into a third act.
 
The decider was quite a different affair compared to both other sets. All service games went with serve until 4-4, although Ana held a break point in the eighth game. 
 
Ana earned two match points in the tenth game and she let out a squeal of delight when McHale’s stroke went long, fully aware of the fact it could have turned out very differently.

"I'm very pleased with the effort that I managed to win the match today because it wasn't easy. Obviously I wasn't at the top of my game," said Ana.

"I really struggled to find my feet around the ball in the beginning of the match. But I really tried to swing freely and get myself back into that match. 

"I played a great game to break her when she was serving for the match. That kind of gave me confidence. I tried to move forward and be aggressive even when I was making mistakes. 
 
"Then in the third set, I did serve very well. So I was very pleased with that. Just so happy to be through."
 
Ana will face world No.2 Victoria Azarenka, who beat Alize Cornet 6-7, 6-3, 6-2, in round four on Monday.

By Joeri Moerman

Photo: Manuela Davies / doubleXposure.com