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Ana defeated world No.72 Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-7 (10-12), 6-3, 6-2 in the opening round of the Mutua Madrid Open. The 16th seed combined powerful groundstrokes with great defense and proved the fitter player as the match progressed, to book victory after two-and-a-half hours.
Ana had lost the pair’s only previous encounter two years ago at the same venue, from a set and a break up no less. Today, Ana broke her opponent in the third game, but instantly surrendered her lead as she dropped serve in the following game.
It was the beginning of a fluctuating and nail-biting set, which featured classy tennis from both sides. Mattek-Sands often visited the net, applying her volley skills to finish rallies, while Ana unleashed some breathtaking winners. No more breaks of serve were allowed so a tiebreak was inevitable.
In the tiebreak, Ana surged into a 5-2 lead, but it was the American who earned a first set point, winning four consecutive points. Ana managed to save three set points and despite holding two herself, it was eventually Mattek-Sands who came off best, utilizing her fourth opportunity.
However, after losing the opening set, it was Ana who took more control over the rallies. She earned again a quick advantage and this time, the 25-year-old was relentless and managed to sustain the lead as she took the match into a third set.
The decider turned out to be one-way traffic from Ana’s racket. The American couldn't keep up with the pace, struggling with her timing and was often forced into making mistakes by the 16th seed.
Ana broke Mattek-Sands in the first game and added another break of serve in game five, which enabled her to wrap up a tough but satisfying victory.
Ana will face Chanelle Scheepers from South Africa in the second round, who moved past former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic 6-7 (1-7), 6-3, 6-3.
By Joeri Moerman