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In spite of a marvelous opening set and a striking comeback in set two, Ana fell 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 to world No.8 Sara Errani in the fourth round of the Sony Open Tennis in Miami. Both players won exactly 79 points during the 103 minute encounter, but the Italian proved the more consistent player in sets two and three.
Ana started the match with the same flair that she had shown all week and produced an outright brilliant performance during the opening set, relying on an extremely efficient service. She dropped just four points on serve and achieved a first service percentage of 65, which helped her to dictate terms during the rallies. She swung freely with her forehand and discharged some classy passing shots as she confidently wrapped up the set in 28 minutes.
One of the turning points of the match may have occurred when Ana was unable to convert a break point in the first game of the second set. Errani took full advantage of Ana’s missed opportunities and managed to score her first breakthrough in the set by breaking to love in the next game. She capitalised upon Ana’s faltering serve once more in game four – Ana held five game points in that game – and steamrolled into a 5-0 advantage.
Admirably, the former world No. 1 kept fighting, ignoring the apparently unbridgeable arrears and gave her heart to it as she cleared the double break deficit. Unfortunately for the 25-year-old, Errani exploited a first set point as Ana served to level at 5-5 and pulled the match into a decider.
Ana managed to break the last year’s French Open runner-up in the first game of set three, but she was re-broken straightaway before Errani definitively turned the tide and opened up a 4-2 lead by breaking in the sixth game. The eighth seed eventually reeled off four straight games to reach the quarter-finals.
By Joeri Moerman