After losing to Kim Clijsters in Brisbane on Tuesday, Ana arrived in Sydney on Wednesday, where she’ll take apart in the Apia International Tournament, which begins this weekend. You can see pictures of Ana practicing in Sydney here.
The draw was done today. Ana will open up against Lucie Safarova in the 1st round, whom she has a 2-2 career record against. Ana lost the last two meetings which took place late in the 2009 season. Both were tightly contested matches, with Ana going down in a 3 set heartbreaker during the 2nd round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto, and then losing in straight sets in the 1st round in Tokyo a month later. However, I wouldn’t read too much into those results, given Ana was playing in the middle of quite possibly the worst stretch of tennis of her career, at that point. Safarova, a lefty, can be pretty tough. This is a tricky opening round match for Ana, but a winnable one as well. If Ana were to advance, she’ll play either Svetlena Kuznetsova or Vera Zvonareva in the 2nd round. As you may recall, Ana defeated both consecutively back in October in Beijing, and beat them both rather decisively in straight sets. Defending champ Li Na or Flavia Pennetta could await in the quarter finals, and Petra Kvitova or Sam Stosur could await in the semi finals.
It’s not a easy draw by any stretch, but that was to be expected given how loaded the field was in a 32 player draw. It could have been worse. I think it’s a doable draw and a good test for Ana with a week to play before the Australian Open. Would love to see her pick up a couple of wins here and build at least some confidence before she arrives in Melbourne for the first major tournament of the year. The last time Ana competed in this event was back in 2008, where she reached the semi’s, before losing to Justine Henin in 3 sets.
Ana will play the first match tomorrow on Ken Rosewall Arena, starting at 11:00 AM local time. That would translate to 7:00 PM EST for us Americans and 1:00 AM CET for you Europeans. Streams should be available. We’ll keep you updated.