Ana marches on

Ana marches on

Ana's fine run of form in Rome continued today as she ousted world No.18 Nadia Petrova 6-2, 7-5 in the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL D'Italia. The 22-year-old has won all four of her matches in straight sets here and advances to a Saturday semi-final with Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

The match against Petrova seemed to start with the same pattern as Ana's previous matches here. She immediately forced a break, attacking Petrova’s serve with sledgehammer blows of her forehand. Petrova quickly asked to see her coach on court, hoping to find an answer to the Ana's relentless attacking play, such was the former French Open champion's dominance.

Ana was serving with great purposes too and, allied to some excellent defence, looked in total control during the opening set.

The former world No.1 continued such form into the second set but a lapse when 2-1 ahead threatened to change the momentum of the match. Certainly Petrova came into the contest much more after this break and she broke again to lead 4-2.

But Ana was not to be denied. Showing the same brand of composure and self-belief that has gotten her this far into the tournament, she broke back immediately and then piled on the pressure when 6-5 up, and the Russian could not withstand the onslaught. Victory was Ana's after 76 minutes of polished clay court tennis.

Those among the press who have not been following Ana closely in recent weeks were understandably surprised by her surge at the Foro Italico. In her post-match press conference Ana was asked if "something just clicked" here in Rome.

She responded: "Well honestly, I have been feeling really good on court for a couple of weeks now and I really felt it could happen any week. I just needed to get some more momentum and start playing matches because that is what I have been lacking for so long.

"I am so happy that I came here, because last week it just was not happening. To have these wins here means a lot.

"For a long time I think that this is the best for me, and obviously winning against top players gives you confidence.

"My serve has been a big issue for me for over the past year-and-a-half, two years, and now obviously it helps me in my game, and puts less stress on other parts of my game because I feel more confident that I can hold my serves."

Ana's semi-final against Martinez Sanchez, whom she has never before faced, is scheduled as the second on Center Court, with the first match taking place at 4pm local time (10am Eastern Time). Click here for live point-by-point scoring from the Foro Italico.