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Ana was encouraged by her form in the Australian Open mixed doubles competition, in which she and Novak Djokovic narrowly failed to reach the quarter-finals. They lost 3-6, 6-1, 10-5 to sixth seeds Daniel Nestor and Elena Likhovtseva in round two yesterday.
“I was pleased with my game in the doubles,” Ana said. “It gives me some more confidence. My volleys worked good. In the last few days I’ve been practising really good so I’m happy about that and looking forward to the next tournament.”
Ana’s next destination is Tokyo. Her first round match at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, a lucrative tier I event, will take place either next Tuesday or Wednesday.
Reflecting on her two matches in the mixed doubles, Ana said: “It was so much fun. I think we both really enjoyed it. I think we had chances in our last match. We’re still young and we don’t have so much experience – this was only our second tournament together.
“The first round match against Kirilenko and Andreev was a good learning experience. It was very, very windy and under the lights, so it was difficult to play. You have to get used to it, especially because it could happen in your singles.”
Both Ana and Novak stayed at the baseline when receiving first serves against their illustrious second round opponents, who between them hold three grand slam doubles titles. Ana explained the reasons behind this tactic. “We were trying out some things,” she said.
“Nestor is a very tall guy so he has a good reach on the volleys. It was hard to return so we thought we’d have a better chance if we stayed back.”
Novak was disappointed that he and Ana could not sustain their brilliant form in the first set of that match, which they won 6-3. He said: “We started well. We broke Daniel Nestor’s serve, which is the strongest of our opponent’s. Unfortunately in the second set we didn’t have enough concentration to hold onto our lead so they took their opportunity. They are playing very good mixed doubles.
“When you get to the Super Tiebreak you never know because it’s unpredictable, anything can happen. We started it very well but we didn’t have luck and they played very good.”
By Gavin Versi
photo: Denis Gallucci