Another day, another heady straight set win over a nutty Russian.
I scrambled to get yesterday's FD Podcast posted because I was anticipating an Ana loss today. Call it being a bad fan, call it self-preservation, call it someone having to learn to steel oneself against constant disappointment. But I honestly didn't think her head would come through for the fourth straight day.
But it did! After another dominant first set (is it just me or do you get the feeling other players just don't know what to expect when they take a court against "New Ana") that saw her serving well and cracking forehands, Ana again had to face a service let down and better quality of play from her opponent in the second set. Again it looked like this one would go three sets, as Nadia eventually worked herself into a one break lead. But instead of getting discouraged or panicking, Ana soldiered on, eventually getting her serve back in order to hold at love and eventually breaking back twice to seal the set.
I'm so trilled! This is the Ana that I love! The fighter from 2006-2008 who mounted impossible comeback after impossible comeback (vs. JJ in LA? vs. Dani at AO?).
But what impressed me more than the win was her reaction after the match. After she secured match point there was no squealing. There was no goofy grin as she clutched her racquet and looked to the heavens as if to thank "OHTHANKGOD". There was no look of relief. She simply clenched her fist as she walked slowly to the net and looked over to her box with a determined and non-chalant glare as if to say "Here we go."
In other words, this didn't seem to come as a shock, surprise, or long exhale. She's starting to believe. Instead of hoping for wins, which is what she's been doing for the better part of a year and a half, she's expecting them. Not because other people are telling her she's supposed to be winning but because she truly believes it. It's business time.
It's an amazing thing to see. She'll play the always tricky, occasionally cheatey MJMS tomorrow. No matter what happens, this week has been awesome.