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- About Ana
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Ana produced a pulsating performance to beat Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova 6-0, 6-4 on Arthur Ashe Stadium to progress to the last eight of the US Open for the first time. The 24-year-old triumphed in one hour and 11 minutes to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final since she won the French Open in 2008.
Although the Bulgarian’s form has dipped in 2012 having not won three matches back-to-back until this event, she is a dangerous player as proven by her run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2010 and her win over Ana in their only previous meeting four years ago in Rome.
Ana made an assertive start showing good control on the serve and displaying some trademark bruising forehands. However, the same could not be said of her opponent, whose double faults gifted Ana an early break. It was clear that Pironkova was lacking confidence and feeling under pressure.
Well-timed first serves, scintillating baseline winners and terrific net play kept coming from the former world No.1 as Pironkova failed to settle. The world No.55 appeared rushed, hesitant and unable to deal with Ana’s power.
Ana broke the Bulgarian’s next two service games to take the first set in 23 minutes. Her determination to attack, culminating in 13 first set winners, was making the difference.
Between sets, Pironkova received treatment on a neck injury which seemed to improve her fortune at the start of the second set. She held her serve for the first time in the match and then broke Ana’s serve to take a 2-1 lead. In particular, she looked to be taking the ball on earlier to try to stop the barrage of winners from the 12th seed’s racket.
In the remainder of the set, six service games were broken as both struggled on serve and both returned well. However, only one break was crucial. With a 5-4 lead, Ana unleashed a wonderful cross-court forehand to wrap up the match and seal a superb victory.
"In the first set I didn't do much wrong," said Ana. "I felt like everything was going my way. In the second set she did start a little more aggressive. She was missing a little less. I did have a few errors off my forehand side. I think that was probably the biggest difference.
"It's amazing. I have been here in fourth round quite a few times, so to make that step and reach quarterfinal is something which I'm really thrilled about."
Ana will now play the USA’s Serena Williams on Wednesday in the quarter-finals for a place in the last four.
By Jonathan Campkin
Photo: Manuela Davies / doubleXposure.com