- On Court
- About Ana
- Club Ana
Ana stunned world No.7 Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia for just the second time in her career. A superb performance enabled the 26-year-old to clinch sweet revenge for losing last month’s Stuttgart final, and end the Russian’s impressive winning streak on clay.
Ana described her loss against Sharapova in the Stuttgart final as one of the most disappointing of her career and today, she got the chance to put some things straight. The world No.13 started brightly, holding serve to love and she attacked Sharapova’s serve from the very first moment.
The Russian, under pressure by the aggressive returning from Ana, threw in two double faults in her opening game and Ana took advantage, sealing an early break.
But again, it was another contest full of drama. Ana served to confirm the break in the next game, but three unforced errors from her racket granted Sharapova a pair of break-back points. In the following rally, Ana halted play because a ball had escaped from under her dress, but the umpire didn’t call a ‘let’ and left Ana in disbelief.
However, there was simply no stopping Ana in the opening set. She restored her break advantage with tactically flawless play and added two more breaks to surge into a 5-1 lead. After just 31 minutes, Ana had the opening set under her belt in absolutely sublime fashion.
Nonetheless, Sharapova was on a 13-match winning streak in Rome and she dug deep into her mental reserves to keep her successful run alive. Breaks were exchanged during the first two games of the second set, before the Russian fought back from another 0-30 arrears in game three to hold serve for the first time in the match.
It seemed that the Russian had finally settled and both players treated the audience to a top-class, nail-biting contest. Suddenly, both players held serve with ease and scored breathtaking winners from all corners of the court. Ana displayed some fabulous defence as the exchanges got more and more thrilling, although the 26-year-old got in some trouble in the sixth game of the set. Fortunately, she saved both possible momentum-changing break points and scored an important hold of serve.
Three games later, at 4-4 0-30, the 11th seed threw in a dazzling drop shot out of the blue to which the Russian had no answer. It set up three break points and as Ana was successful to exploit on the first occasion, the world No.13 was now on the verge of a sensational victory.
But, as had Ana already experienced, a match against the Russian is never finished until the last rally has been played and so it proved today. Typically, Sharapova hung on till the very end. At 30-all, Ana served a double fault which offered the four-time Grand Slam champion a chance to re-level. It brought a somewhat sour smile on Ana’s face, but she eventually served herself out of the danger zone and she completed the compelling upset with a forehand winner down the line.
"I was really happy I was able to perform this well today," said Ana. "I feel like I learnt from the performance in Stuttgart...I really took away time from her and stepped forward when I needed to. I'm very, very pleased, obviously."
"This was a very tough draw for both of us. I tried to do the things I'd done in practice, to implement them on my game and build on my experiences. I'm very happy with how it went."
Sharapova reflected': "I thought Ana played a really great match. She came up with winners from all over the court today and was the better player."
In the quarter-finals, Ana will face Carla Suarez Navarro from Spain who received a walkover after the withdrawal of world No.4 Simona Halep due to a left abdominal injury.
By Joeri Moerman