Saturday, 18 January 2014

Ana too good for Sam this time

The first Friday night on Rod Laver Arena featured two Serbian stars, one in the first match being 14th seed Ana Ivanovic, who would be playing the part of "villain" against 17th seed Aussie Samantha Stosur, Sam endeavouring to reach the fourth round of her home Grand Slam event to equal her best showing here.

This was being publicised as the best women's match of the Open so far, and with good reason - both women had won Grand Slam titles - Ana had also been to the final here in the year she won her title at Roland Garros.  However, neither has probably fully lived up to the potential that has been applied to them, either fairly or unfairly.

Ana kicked off first, and soon was in an excellent rhythm, leaving Sam without much chance with a couple of aces and forehand winners.  Sam's reply was smart, highlighting Ana's backhand, which for the moment was not cutting it, and the Stosur power feeding that wing proved too much.  A comfortable hold and games were 1-1.
Ana served well once more giving nothing away as she forced Sam into continual difficulty off a consistent delivery,  From 40-15, Sam was dragged, kicking and screaming, back to deuce and then to break point by some lovely winners off both sides by Ana before firstly an ace, then a couple of loose forehands from Serbia allowed the games to be 2-2
No break points in the next two games, although Sam did win some points off the Ivanovic serve, even taking her to deuce.  3-3

The first key moment of the match arrived in the seventh game when Ana, with a double fault together with some unforced errors sat at break point for the first time.  Sam needed no coaxing and via a forehand winner, seized the break and led 4-3.
The break was consolidated to love, with three successive excellent shots to Ana's backhand that forced errors.
Ana was still well on the back foot as she served to stay in the set.  One set point was saved and somehow the serve was held leaving Stosur the task of holding to take a set lead.
Sam fell behind with a double fault but had three more set points in the game, the last two of which were saved by Ivanovic forehand winners.  The first break point available to the 14th seed was duly converted with another excellent forehand and games were 5-5.

In a flash we were in a tie break, and soon Ana was ahead 6-3, but Sam dug her way out of that trouble to be leading 8-7 as rain poured - a break in play ensued as the roof slowly shut and the court dried.

Once back Sam took little time at all to wrap up the tie break 10-8 and the set 7-6.

The second set began with four service holds, including Stosur in the first game from a precarious 0-40.  The fifth game was pivotal to the whole match.  Here, Ivanovic stamped her authority on things.  Her forehand now was really causing open wounds in the Stosur game.  The service break was the first scoreboard indication of what had been bubbling under the surface for quite awhile.
Although Sam served Ok for the remainder of the set, she could not make inroads on the Serbian serve, and Ana confidently levelled the match at a set all, 6-7 6-4.

Needing to regroup quickly, Sam just could not escape the forehand barrage that was coming from an unstoppable Ana Ivanovic, who broke in the first game of the decider to lead 1-0 and with Sam's forehand falling apart in the next game, that shot itself signified exactly where this match was heading.

Statistically Sam remained a chance up until the seventh game where trailing 2-4 and just the one break, she collapsed once more on serve, and now armed with a double break, Ana fired up, coming out with all guns blazing in the eighth game to take the match impressively 6-7 6-4 6-2

Serena Williams next - good luck with that one!

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