Don't get me wrong. I'm super bummed Boots is out. I really saw her making a run to the semis here. But man, how can you hate on Snot Rocket? She's just fighting and clawing her way through this draw, using her fighting Serbian blood to gut out matches. She listlessly dropped the first set to Boots 63, and then completely steamrolled the young Dane, taking the next two sets 61 62.
Good on ya, girl. I just hope she hasn't spent all her emotional reserves. Luckily she'll have the crowd completely in her favor in Round 4...
...where she'll meet big sweaty Alisa Kleybanova. At the end of the day she outgutted Baby K. There's no way around it. She played big, went for her shots, and just stayed steady in the third set and let Ana wilt away. She believed and at that made the difference.
That said, there is nothing more disgusting than the sight of her wringing sweat from her ponytail. Seriously, that shit is disgusting.
It was a tough matchup from the start. Anyone who follows Ana knows that she has matchup problems with players who hit hard and flat (Lena, Zheng, Lindsay). She dropped the first set after serving for it at 5-3, and Kleybs won 7 straight games. But at 0-3 in the second she finally made adjustments to her game, playing more aggressively, hitting through her shots, and getting to the net. But even when she did that it wasn't that her game was better than Kleybanova's. She pulled that set out on pure fight and willpower. It was the most fired up I've ever seen Ana during a match. She came back, forced a tiebreaker, and took the uber-tense breaker 7-5.
The Ana of old would have kept her foot on the gaspedal. But she's playing scared nowadays. She's not winning matches so much as hoping her opponent loses them. Instead of keeping with the gameplan that got her into the third set, she retreated, spinning shots into the court and daring Kleybanova to hit winners. And she did. By the time she made adjustments to play more aggressively it was too late. You could see in the last game that she had no fight left. No belief. And that was more disappointing and sad to me than the actual loss itself.
Where does she go from here? I honestly don't know. She has zero confidence these days. No belief in herself and her game. The kid is too smart for her own good. She KNOWS she's not playing well and doesn't have the Serena/JJ ability to fool herself into thinking otherwise.
The more I think about it the more amazed I am with how similar Masha and Ana are. Big games that are built on confidence and belief. But there are those days/months where that's not enough. She'll continue to win matches based on pure grit. But until she gets her head straightened out she won't be lifting any trophies soon, Grand Slam or otherwise.