Improving Ana scores key victory

Improving Ana scores key victory

Ana beat ninth seed Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-4 in the second round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. The win signifies her first triumph over a top 10-ranked player in some 20 months, and the first pair of back-to-back straight sets wins since June 2009.

The 22-year-old performed to a consistently high level and, whereas on previous occasions she had gotten herself into winning positions against the top players only to falter, on this occasion she showed great composure to close out victory in one hour and 36 minutes.

Azarenka overwhelmed Ana during the opening two games with her sheer intensity and she led 2-0, but Ana stuck with the 10th-ranked Belorusian. The next five games all went with serve until Ana's continued exolosiveness paid off in the eighth game and she broke to love.

Ana then held serve to love and in fact won 11 straight points, with Azarenka taking a medical timeout and consulting her coach either side of the streak, on her way to clinching the opening set.

The 22-year-old demonstrated an impressive all-court game on the Pietrangeli Court. She served solidly, hit some characteristically aggressive forehand winners as well as a cluster of piercing sliced backhands. She also threw in the occasional drop shot and net approach as she kept Azarenka firmly on her toes.

The opening two games of the second set were epic affairs. Ana resisted a clutch of break points in game one, many of them saved thanks to big serves, but she could not resist the 20-year-old's charge. Azarenka again led 2-0.

This time Ana levelled immediately, only to then fall 4-2 behind. Just as she had done in the previous set, she stayed calm and reeled off four successive games, and with them sealed a most satisfying win.

"I'm very happy with this victory," said a beaming Ana. "I knew I had it in me, I've been improving a lot over these past few weeks, playing really well in practice and this time I was able to take something like that kind of play into a match.

"Tomorrow against Dementieva is going to be very tough, so there's not much time to enjoy this victory. I have to re-focus, have a good preparation in the afternoon and hopefully I can keep improving."

The match against the Russian sixth seed Elena Dementieva is scheduled to begin at 8.30pm local time (2.30pm Eastern Time) on the Center Court. Click here for live point-by-point scoring from the Foro Italico.