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Serbia lost the Hyundai Hopman Cup final 2-1 to Spain after a disappointing evening for Ana and her followers.
Novak Djokovic had put Serbia within touching distance of victory by beating Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-5, but Ana could not claim the decisive second victory as she lost a marathon rubber 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2 to Anabel Medina Garrigues. The 25-year-old was unable to produce the kind of form she'd shown earlier in the week and lost after a battle lasting more than two and a half hours.
Ana started the contest brightly. She scored the opening break in the second game of the match when a backhand from the world No.50 went wide, but she couldn't consolidate her advantage.
Although she managed to save five break points in the next game, the former world No.1 was re-broken at the sixth attempt by the Spaniard. Medina Garrigues added another break in the tenth game and wrapped up the first set in just under an hour.
Despite the loss of serve, Ana immediately picked up her attacking intentions and took a 3-0 lead in the second set.
At 4-2, 0-30 on the Medina Garrigues serve, Ana even seemed to force a decisive gap but, unfortunately, she could not exploit that rare chance as Medina Garrigues was almost impenetrable on serve, giving away just four break opportunities today.
The great variation on the Spaniard’s second delivery prevented Ana from attacking the serve with her forehand. On the contrary, it was the Spaniard who managed to undo Ana’s early advantage and forced the set into a tiebreak. Ana had to dig deep but eventually leveled the match by winning the tiebreak 7-3.
The match had already been underway for two hours when the women started a decisive third set and after both players had left the court for a short break, it was Medina Garrigues who returned as the more alert player and she raced into a 3-0 lead.
Ana re-discovered her strokes in the fourth game, which she won to love, and earned a break point to get back to 2-3 one game later. However, Medina Garrigues again proved too solid on serve and cleared away the danger.
The Spaniard fought herself into a 5-2 lead and broke Ana once more to seal victory and take the tie into a deciding mixed doubles rubber.
Spain entered the pivotal rubber with the momentum, and they refused to let up. Garrigues' fine form continued, while Verdasco proved to be rock solid in his service games.
Ana and Djokovic fought for every ball, but they were edged out 6-4, 7-5 and their quest for Serbia's maiden Hyundai Hopman Cup title will continue.
By Joeri Moerman