Ana survived a tough battle with Maria Kirilenko today, 6-2, 7-6 (4) to advance the the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Without streams, we were left to follow the match on livescores, which is never fun. It’s even less fun when a match such as this one becomes so unpredictable and a hot mess at the same time. Since we didn’t have the opportunity to watch with our very own eyes, it is difficult to properly assess how each player played. Judging from the stats and scoreboard however, it wasn’t pretty. Well, the tennis that is.
Ana begin the match by saving six break points on her serve in the opening game. After finally holding, Ana broke Kirilenko to take a 2-0 lead. She quickly found herself facing another break point in her next service game, which quickly vanished, as Ana went on to consolidate her break to expand her lead to 3-0. After attaining a 4-0 double break lead, Ana was broken to love. Kirilenko held and suddenly a 4-0 lead turned into 4-2 . But, Ana held and broke to finish out the 1st set, taking it 6-2.
The 2nd set was far more tighter and tense. A break-fest broke out as both players had difficulty holding serve. After 5 straight breaks to open the second, Kirilenko was the first to hold, giving herself a 4-2 lead over Ana. That lead didn’t last long as Ana reeled of 3 straight games to take a 5-4 lead of her own. The breaks came to an end and we went to a tiebreak. Tiebreaks as you know, aren’t Ana’s friend. Kirilenko was 9-0 in her previous nine tiebreaks coming into today, while Ana was just 3-6. So it felt like advantage Kiri. While Ana fans stomachs were churning, Ana jumped out to a 3-0 (double mini-break) lead. That 3-0 lead however quickly turned into a 3-4 deficit. But as quickly as momentum switched to Kirilenko, it as quickly turned back to Ana who won the next four points to take the tiebreak 7-4 and the match itself.
As I said before, it is hard to really gauge how either Kirilenko or Ivanovic played today since we didn’t actually see them in action. It was pretty clear though, that Ana did not have a great day with her serve. That being said, as much as I wanted to pull my hair out a various point throughout the match, a win is a win and that is all that matters. Ana is into the quarterfinals of a tournament for the first time this season. This is the 3rd time Ivanovic has made the quarterfinals in Dubai, previously doing so in 2008 and 2009, losing to both Dementieva and Serena respectively. She followed up both of those quarterfinal appearances with a trip to the finals at Indian Wells. So maybe this is a sign of good things to come.
Up next for Ana is former world #1 and current world #4 Caroline Wozniacki. Ana holds a 2-1 head to head advantage over the Dane, defeating her both at the 2008 Australian and French Open. Wozniacki did win their last encounter in Beijing 2010, in a really competitive match that ended with a 7-6(1), 6-4 scoreline. Ana played impressive tennis during the 1st set, but after losing the tiebreak, she wasn’t the same in the 2nd. This presents Ana with a enormous opportunity to score an elusive big win over a top player. A victory could do Ana wonders. Also, with Azarenka’s withdrawal, Ana’s draw has opened up a bit. So a lot at stake tomorrow.
While I don’t believe Ana will win, I certainly believe she can. Obviously, she’ll have to step up her game to do so, but Ana has shown in the past that she is capable of going toe to toe with Caroline. It will be interesting to see how this match plays out. They both have very different games. Ana will look to be the aggressor while Wozniacki will try to stay patient with her defensive style of play. They do share some similarities however. Both have golfer boyfriends, sponsored by Adidas, Yonex and Rolex, and both former world #1’s. May the best player win. Hopefully that player is Ana.
(Pic via Getty)