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Ana will face world No.43 Iveta Benesova in the second round of the Nasdaq-100 Open after the Czech narrowly beat 17-year-old Croatian wild card Sanja Ancic.
Benesova took two hours and 19 minutes to beat the youngster, who was making her debut in the main draw of a professional tournament, 6-7, 6-1, 7-6.
Ana has played Benesova twice before, both times at Grand Slam events. She beat the 23-year-old 3-6, 7-6, 6-1 at the Australian Open last year and 6-3, 6-1 at the French Open five months later.
Ana is happy about the introduction of electronic line calling, the automated system of officiating known as ‘Hawk-Eye’ that made its debut at the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami yesterday.
“I had a chance to try it during the Hopman Cup and I liked it,” said Ana. “I think that with the opportunity to ask for a challenge, you just feel that there is less chance that some players can take advantage of bad calling. It’s fairer. I think that the electronic system can be more accurate than the human eye so I am happy about this change.”
Ana was named the Most Improved Player of 2005 at “Stars For Stars”, the Official Awards Party of Professional Tennis. The 18-year-old beat fellow youngsters Anna Chakvetadze, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Maria Kirilenko and Nicole Vaidisova to the prestigious accolade during a glittering ceremony in Miami last night.
"Wow!" said Ana. "I am very, very grateful for this honour. Thank you so much for this award. I am working hard and I hope I can continue improving."
Ana will get a chance to show off her culinary knowledge when she attends tonight’s Stars For Stars event in Miami. The evening will combine the Official Awards Party for Professional Tennis with a sampling of the finest gourmet treats that Miami’s greatest chefs have to offer.
Ana has been nominated for the Best Newcomer Award alongside Anna Chakvetadze, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Maria Kirilenko and Nicole Vaidisova. Other awards that will given out to honour the stars of 2005 are: Player of the Year, Doubles Team of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year and the Humanitarian Awards.
Ana has been drawn to face either Iveta Benesova or Sanja Ancic in her first match at the Nasdaq-100 Open, which begins in Miami on Wednesday. Ana is seeded 14th for the event, the fifth biggest on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour calendar, and receives a bye into the second round. Her opening match is scheduled to take place on Friday or Saturday.
Ana’s seeding is reflected in her current ranking of 16 and the fact that two players currently ranked ahead of her – Lindsay Davenport and Mary Pierce – have withdrawn from the event through injury.
In the latest Official Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Rankings, published today, Ana has climbed three places to No.16, which equals her highest ever ranking. Her quarter-final appearance in last week’s Pacific Life Open has also helped Ana rise nine places in the Porsche Race to No.21.
Unsurprisingly, given that she hasn’t played a pairs match since the beginning of February, Ana’s doubles ranking remains at No.95, which is creditable considering she has only seven team ranking events to her name.
Jason Fransen, a coach to several ATP and WTA professionals, saw Ana in action for the first time during the Pacific Life Open, his home tournament. He was kind enough to share with us his analysis of Ana’s game. Please note that the opinions that follow are Fransen’s and are completely independent of this website:
“I watched Ana for the first time against Shenay Perry then again when she played Elena Dementieva. What impressed me most were her smooth strokes. She hits the ball so gracefully: it was good to see.
We are delighted to annouce the return of Ask Ana, the feature that allows you to pose questions directly to Ana.
To ask a question, simply click the Ask Ana button on the menu that runs across the top of the page, then fill out the short form. To ensure that as many questions as possible are answered, please keep them to a reasonable length - no more than 250 characters.
After holding a 6-2, 1-0 advantage, Ana was disappointed that she wasn’t able to beat No.4 seed Elena Dementieva yesterday, but the 18-year-old’s preferred to look to the future rather than dwell on a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 defeat in what was only her third appearance in a Tier I quarter-final.
“I’m still young and I have so many things to improve in my game,” said Ana. “I’m just taking one step at a time, trying to work on my physical preparation, a little bit more on my serve, and the consistency in my game. Hopefully this year I’m going to reach the top 10. That’s my goal.”
The tennis equivalent of the game of two halves was played out at the Pacific Life Open this lunchtime, as Ana dominated the beginning of her quarter-final match with Elena Dementieva only to lose in three sets. The 18-year-old eventually went down 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 to the fourth seeded Russian.
Ana revealed to us during the Australian Open earlier this year that she is not a fan of early starts but that certainly was not in evidence today as she flew out of the blocks, breaking Dementieva in the third game and losing only one point in her own opening two service games.