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Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 16:35 UK

Ivanovic beats Dechy in thriller

Wimbledon: Monday 23 June to Sunday 6 July
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A lucky net cord helped Ivanovic save one of two match points

Top seed Ana Ivanovic saved two match points as she battled to a marathon 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-3) 10-8 second-round win over Nathalie Dechy at Wimbledon.

The 20-year-old world number one began well but surrendered a 5-2 lead to lose the first set on a tie-break.

Ivanovic continued to struggle in the second and saved two match points when serving at 4-5 down with a lucky net-cord keeping her in the match.

And she edged a tense deciding set to win in three hours and 24 minutes.

Ivanovic's victory fell only 21 minutes short of the all-time record for a women's singles match at the All England Club.

I am really happy I managed to stay calm because the third set was a game of nerves

Ana Ivanovic

The Serb, who became world number one in winning the French Open, was expected to complete a comfortable victory over an opponent ranked 97 and who had been knocked out in the first round at Wimbledon in the last two years.

But she struggled with her serve and made a host of unforced errors while Dechy, 29, proved to be a gutsy and durable rival.

And Ivanovic will look back on a massive stroke of fortune that she received when trying to save a second match point in the second set as the moment that kept her in the tournament.

Her forehand thumped into the net and just when it seemed that it would fall back towards her, the ball limped over into Dechy's side of the court - handing Ivanovic a huge reprieve.

"My heart skipped a beat because the ball was in the air for a while and I didn't know where it was going to bounce," said Ivanovic, who kissed the part of the net that saved her when the match had finished.

Ivanovic admitted she made the most of her good luck

"Once it went on her side I couldn't believe it. It was really lucky and from that point on I thought of the match as my second chance."

Ivanovic started well enough but she allowed Dechy back into the first set with the help of a first serve percentage that dipped to just 43%.

Dechy dominated the tie-break, comfortably winning it 7-2, but at the start of the second set Ivanovic looked again to be taking control and had three break points for a 4-1 lead.

But Dechy again refused to roll over, levelling the match before carving out two match points at 5-4.

Ivanovic managed to battle back and served out strongly to win the tie-break 7-3 and take the match into a decider.

The drama did not end there and 10 of the first 12 games of the set provided a break-point chance.

Dechy was broken twice to go 4-2 and then 5-3 behind but she fought back to level the match at 5-5.

And Ivanovic received another slice of luck at 5-5 when Dechy fired home a backhand volley winner to go 30-15 ahead on the Serb's serve, only to be told to replay the point as her hat had fallen off just before the stroke.

606: DEBATE
wildJONESEYE

Ivanovic won the replayed point, and the game, and then had two match points at 7-6 only for Dechy to save them both.

But Dechy's brave effort ended when her opponent secured three match points at 9-8. And Ivanovic claimed victory on her second with a forehand volley down the line.

"It was an amazing match," added Ivanovic. "It was very long, close and there were a lot of good rallies.

"She played really well and gave me a tough match. All congratulations to her. A few balls really decided the game.

"The final set was tough. It was a long match and there was ups and downs in concentration from both sides.

"I am really happy I managed to stay calm because the third set was a game of nerves as well."


see also
Safin stuns lacklustre Djokovic
25 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Serena through to face Mauresmo
25 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Wimbledon photos
25 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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