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Ana reached the second round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati with a 6-1, 7-5 win over world No.80 Sorana Cirstea of Romania. Encouragingly, she showed no signs of the hip injury that hampered her in her previous two tournaments.
In today’s published WTA rankings, Cirstea suffered a giant fall of 44 spots following her round one exit in Montreal last week, and was also during the match immediately put on the backfoot by Ana, who emerged victorious in 67 minutes.
Indeed, Ana’s opening set performance was simply brilliant. She stroked the ball superbly well, generating some incredible short angles as she hit a flurry of winners to set up three break chances in the second game of the match. She capitalized upon her very first opportunity as she broke to love and she consolidated the break in game three.
The pair contested some extremely high-standard rallies but it was Ana who gained the upper hand in most of the cases. In the fourth game, Cirstea was forced into defence: the world No.80 had to get rid of four break points and was ultimately broken on the fifth occasion.
Despite the 4-0 gap on the scoreboard, the Romanian fought with heart and soul. She snatched back one of the breaks to reduce the arrears but nevertheless, the world No.11 quickly restored her double break lead. Ana surged on and exploited her second set point to clinch the first act in 28 minutes.
The opening game of the second set marked the first hold of serve for the Romanian, who ended set one with a poor first serve percentage of 36. Cirstea had clearly regrouped in between sets and was now winning her service games with ease. Moreover, she scored a break to love in the fourth game to move ahead 3-1.
During the changeover and trailing 4-1, Ana asked for an on-court consultation with her coach Dejan Petrovic. It bore fruit instantly and the 26-year-old’s game improved significantly as she won three straight games to love, including a re-break in the seventh game to recover the arrears.
A composed service game from Cirstea enabled the Romanian to get her nose back in front. A third set was even suddenly very likely as the 24-year-old earned a 0-30 lead on Ana’s serve in the next game. To her credit, the former world No.1 came up with three well-placed first serves to eventually level at 5-5, before scoring the decisive breakthrough shortly after.
Ana held to love in the next game and sealed victory with an ace to secure her ticket into round two, where she will meet either Nicole Gibbs or Christina McHale, who will play their first round match on Tuesday.
By Joeri Moerman
Photo: Manuela Davies / doubleXposure.com