Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
Ana shocked world No. 3 and top-seed Simona Halep en route to reach her second consecutive quarter-final in as many weeks, but was unable to reproduce that stunning display against Barbora Strycova. Nevertheless, the 28-year-old may look back upon two extremely satisfying matches at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Being the second-highest ranked non-seeded player in this strong field of competitors, Ana received a very tricky draw. However, she absolutely crushed world No. 35 Daria Gavrilova in the opening round, to whom she had lost their only previous encounter. This time, the former world No. 1 dominated throughout and sealed victory in 53 minutes, dropping just one game.
A mouth-watering match-up with world No. 3 Simona Halep was her reward. Despite Halep went up 3-1 early on, Ana managed to turn the tide with some big-hitting from both wings. However Ana had to save a set point in the tenth game to enforce a tiebreak, she eventually clinched it 7-2 and wrapped up with that the opening set in over an hour.
Ana’s moral boosted and she used that momentum to break Halep’s serve in the third game of act two. Thereafter, the world No. 17 didn’t look back. She steamrolled her way to victory thanks to solid serving and scored her first win over a top-seeded player since beating Serena Williams at the Australian Open in 2014.
Against Barbora Strycova, events went just the other way. In a tight first set, a tiebreak again had to be decisive. Ana went 5-3 up, but then double faulted to see her advantage shrink. It renewed Strycova’s hopes and she reeled off four points to get away with that opening set. Ana started set two by breaking to love, but couldn’t back it up as she surrendered her own serve in the following game. Strycova capitalized maximally and secured her spot in the semi-finals.
“I think it was one of the highest quality matches I have had in maybe a year. I lost a lot of close matches in the past, so it was nice to get this one done. I knew I had it in me, so I really believed throughout,” Ana said on her win against defending champion Simona Halep.
“Honestly I just try now to enjoy my game. I'm 28, this year 29. I just think about all the experiences I’ve had, all the things I’ve achieved. There is no overachieving or underachieving. It's what you make out of it. I know I have talent and possibility to do well. That's what I want to try and do.”
R1: Ana vs. D. Gavrilova (WTA-35) 6-1, 6-0
R2: Ana vs. S. Halep (WTA-3) 7-6(2), 6-2
QF: Ana vs. B. Strycova (WTA-47) 6(5)-7, 3-6