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Ana produced a stunning performance to defeat world No.8 Petra Kvitova 6-3, 7-5 in the third rubber of the Fed Cup final in Prague. Her victory means that the Czech Republic now leads Serbia 2-1 going into the final singles match of the tie between Lucie Safarova and Jelena Jankovic.
It was an instinctive and determined display from the world No.12 as she overcame Kvitova, a former Wimbledon champion, in one hour and 39 minutes. Deeply disappointed about yesterday’s match and driven to keep Serbia in the tie, Ana’s game was outstanding throughout: the Czech was on the receiving end of some fearsome hitting.
A performance defined by intensity. Kvitova consistently found the ball coming back at her with more power, depth and angle. Yesterday’s unforced errors were replaced with stunning winners on both flanks. Her serve was accurate and penetrating and the jewel in the crown was the return. Kvitova’s serve swings into the body and is notoriously difficult to put away, but Ana dealt with it effortlessly. The Czech could only watch as balls fizzed past her before she had even finished her service motion.
Ana rattled through her opening service games, putting instant pressure on the Czech’s serve. Kvitova buckled at 2-2 to give the Serbian No.1 an early break. The 24-year-old then showed mental toughness to withstand pressure from Kvitova and eventually forced a double break at 3-5 to take the first set.
The Czech seemed shell-shocked by the barrage of winners coming over the net, and she often complained about the courtside flash photography. A toilet break between sets gave her more time to try and come up with new tactics to recover, but her efforts were in vain as the second set followed the pattern of the first.
Ana’s inspired and impeccable performance continued. She was hitting lines with unnerving regularity and manoeuvring her opponent around the court. She earned a break at 2-1, and despite Kvitova breaking back at 3-5, Ana clinched victory with a crunching forehand down the line to win Kvitova’s final service game and the second set 7-5.
Ana will now cheer on Jelena Jankovic in the singles as Serbia attempt to take the tie into a decisive fifth and final doubles rubber.
Bojana Jovanovski and Aleksandra Krunic are scheduled to play doubles, but Serbian No.1 Ana and No.2 Jankovic may be chosen to replace them if the score is 2-2.
By Jonathan Campkin
Photo: Manuela Davies / doubleXposure.com