Improving Ana edged out by Clijsters

Improving Ana edged out by Clijsters

Ana signalled an encouraging return to form as she was pipped 7-6 by US Open champion Kim Clijsters in the BNP Paribas Showdown. The 22-year-old led 5-3 and had a match point during an enthralling exhibition event at Madison Square Garden in New York.
 
With new coach Heinz Gunthardt watching from the sidelines, Ana played the style of free-flowing, attacking tennis that saw her climb to the summit of the world rankings a year-and-a-half ago. Her forehand was explosive and she frequently painted the lines of the court with some sizzling groundstrokes.
 
Such flashy play enabled her to break in the opening game. She was broken in the second game as both players struggled to hold serve, but Ana was in the ascendancy almost throughout as she played the more aggressive tennis.
 
She broke in the seventh game then held to lead 5-3, and missed a match point in the following game during an intense baseline exchange.
 
Clijsters absorbed Ana's power admirably and refused to allow the former French Open champion victory. She saved the match point and then broke back to level at 5-5.
 
Ana began the tiebreak poorly and Clijsters finally gained the upper hand, winning it 7-2, but Ana can take great heart from a positive performance.
 
"I'm very happy with how I was striking the ball," said Ana. "I feel like I had a lot of chances today. I made a good start and hit quite a few winners. Kim is a great player and she is never going to give you the match.
 
"Unfortunately I couldn't use the opportunities I had but this is definitely a step forward, and it gives me extra motivation to keep training hard. I am confident the results will come."
 
Photo: Sportska Centrala/Nenad Negovanovic