Ana moves into Round Two

Ana moves into Round Two

Vintage Ana it was not, but the 21st seed is safely through to the second round of the Australian Open. In a mixed bag of a performance Ana won 6-4, 6-4 to set up a meeting with home favourite Samantha Stosur.

“It was actually pretty hard to play,” said Ana. “The first match is always very, very hard. Usually you start a little bit nervous. And she’s a great player. She didn’t give me much rhythm.”

Wearing a red and white dress that neatly matched her Wilson racket – not to mention the Red Star Belgrade football shirts that many of her noisy fans wore – Ana made a slow start. She was unable to dominate her less accomplished opponent as quickly as the large number of Serbian supporters would have liked, thanks in part to Perry’s varied play.

In fact, it was the 130-ranked Perry who made the first move. She took advantage of two loose forehands by Ana and broke for a 4-3 lead. Ana raised her level at just the right moment and a rifled forehand winner brought the packed Court Three crowd to life with chants of “Ana! Ana!” A deep forehand return then enabled Ana to put away an easy smash and break back.

Perry was playing intelligently, trying to keep the ball low and away from Ana’s forehand with a series of sliced backhands and looping forehands. However, Ana was alive to the task and used considerable topspin to return each.

“She was playing very good slice from the backhand and good top spin from the forehand,” said Ana. “It was hard to get rhythm. I was just pleased to take the opportunities I had. She didn’t use some of hers and that’s what made the difference.”

As Perry served to stay in the opening set at 4-5 Ana stepped up her game. She earned herself three set points courtesy of a sensational forehand service return that soared down the line and past Perry’s despairing dive. Though the American saved all three thanks to some crafty kick serves – “they gave me a little bit of trouble today,” said Ana – the 18-year-old wrapped up the set at the fourth time of asking.

When Ana reeled off the first three games of the second set it looked like she might steamroller her way to the finish line. However, the errors crept back in and Perry, aided by an outrageous winner off an Ana smash, won three consecutive games of her own to level at 3-3.

As cries of “Serbia! Serbia!” rang out in the afternoon sun, Ana again found another gear. With the business end of the set approaching her class shone through. She hit two clean winners and broke to lead 4-3 before sealing a 6-4, 6-4 victory when Perry hit a forehand long.

“I had some mistakes on my forehand, which is my better side” reflected Ana. “It didn’t work very well but you have to win matches when you’re not playing great.”

By Gavin Versi
Audio Interview: Ana confesses she was a little bit nervous...