Ana pipped by powerful Petrova

Ana pipped by powerful Petrova

Ana produced one of her best performances of the year but lost 7-5, 6-3 to fourth seed Nadia Petrova in the second round of the Proximus Diamond Games. The scoreline was harsh on Ana, who will be very encouraged by her performance in what was a high-quality match.

Ana’s play was impressively balanced. She adopted her usual forceful, attacking style but retained a level of control that allowed her to keep unforced errors to a minimum. After four games the players could not be split.

With Petrova serving at 2-2 Ana produced some wonderfully aggressive tennis and broke to love. However, a couple of unforced errors as she attempted to consolidate her break allowed Petrova to level at 3-3.

The next five games all went with serve until, with Ana serving to stay in the opening set, world No.7 Petrova hit a flurry of deep forehands that put her in the ascendancy in two crucial rallies. The 23-year-old broke to take what was a very even opening set.

Ana had a more positive look to her than in recent matches. Whereas in Melbourne, for example, she would frequently berate herself when things went wrong, here she would take a step back and refocus. On one occasion, after a missed break point, she even smiled broadly in the direction of her mother and coach.

There remained little to separate the two top 20-ranked players in the opening games of the second set. Then, with the score at 1-1, Ana earned no fewer than six break points. Mighty Petrova first serves saved four of them but Ana will rue the third opportunity, in which she hit an attempted short-angled backhand winner wide that allowed the Russian to cling on.

When Ana faced three break points in her next service game the momentum was firmly with Petrova but the 18-year-old got herself out of trouble with some more aggressive, nerveless hitting. However, in her next service game, at 2-3, Ana was overwhelmed by two intelligent net approaches by the Russian who earned the decisive break and never looked back.

Despite a straight sets defeat Ana will take a lot of positives from this performance against the world No.7, which bodes well for the upcoming North American hard court circuit which features lucrative Tier I events in both Indian Wells and Miami.

By Gavin Versi