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Ana's seemingly inexorable assault on the Generali Ladies Linz title continued on Saturday as she moved past Italian Robert Vinci by a scoreline of 6-3, 7-5 in the semi-finals. She will take on Switzerland's Patty Schnyder on Sunday in what will be her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour final in 19 months.
The match began inauspiciously for Ana as she netted a straightforward smash on the opening point but she shrugged off that aberation by playing virtually impeccable tennis for the next two games. She broke in the second game with a wrong-footing cross-court forehand that set the tone for the entire match.
It was in keeping with Ana's previous matches at this tournament, as she had forged ahead early in all three of her ties prior to the semi-finals. She powered to the opening set, 6-3.
It was more of the same in the second set as Ana broke to lead 2-1. However, the Italian began to play a craftier game at this point, switching her tactics to incorporate plenty of net forays. It paid dividends and she broke back immediately.
At 3-3 the match was competitive but Ana always looked like the player more likely to move ahead. She duly turned the screw just as a tiebreak threatened: at 5-5 Ana broke to love, earning three break points thanks to a ferocious cross court forehand service return winner, which was followed by a lovely wrong-footing down-the-line backhand winner.
Ana sealed victory after 71 minutes with an ace and she then smiled broadly, celebrating her first final of the season. "I really played well, especially in the first set," said Ana.
"I felt like I was hardly missing. Then she started playing a lot better in the second set, but I was able to stay on top of her with my serve. I was serving really well and that made my life a lot easier in my service games so I could put a lot more pressure on her.
"It’s great to be back in the final. I am really excited about it and I have been playing some good tennis lately. I am putting a lot of hard work in, so I really feel that I deserve that spot [in the final].
"I really feel comfortable here. It feels almost like home. The atmosphere is really nice and the courts play well. I really enjoy competing here. I am happy to be playing well and have this many wins here this week.
"Tomorrow is going to be a very tough match. Patty likes to mix it up a lot and never gives you two of the same balls. We had some good matches in the past and I expect a very tough match. I have been playing really well and it's going to be important to stay aggressive and try to serve well. Hopefully we can have a good match and the best one tomorrow wins."
Ana and Schnyder share an eye-catching 4-4 head-to-head record; Schynder won the first four matches in straight sets, but Ana has won the last four, dropping just one set in the process.
The is scheduled to begin at 1.30pm local time (7.30am Eastern Time). Click here for live point-by-point scoring from the TipsArena Linz.