THE Liverpool International gave Ana Bogdan the greatest moment of her tennis life – so far.
But aged still only 23 – the Romanian hopes that the experience of beating one of the greatest players the sport has ever seen at Calderstones Park in 2010 will be an experience she can savour again.
Ana had been a world number two in the junior ranks before she came to Merseyside as a promising 17-year-old.
And she shocked a legend of the sport.
After a straight sets defeat of Martina Hingis, Tournament director Anders Borg explained:
“This kind of match underlines our whole philosophy – young, up and coming players facing established stars in front a big crowd.
You only had to hear Ana Bogdan describe her victory over Martina as ‘the best day of her life’ to realise how worthwhile it is.
‘Swiss Miss’ Hingis had been a star attraction in Liverpool, using the event as a Wimbledon tune-up where she was set to partner Anna Kournikova in the Legends doubles event.
She beat Norwegian youngster Ulrikke Eikeri in straight sets in her first match. The following day she held off Canadian Eugenie Bouchard – soon to be a Wimbledon singles finalist – 6-3, 6-4.
But 17 year old Ana Bogdan shocked the Liverpool International audience, beating Hingis in straight sets to bring the tournament to a dramatic conclusion.
The Romanian junior battled through injury and a range of emotions to win 6-4, 6-4 in the biggest match of her career.
“This day is the best day of my life and I won’t forget it.
She had come into the tournament after two months out with a muscle rupture and as a result struggled to find any rhythm in her opening matches, narrowly missing out on qualification for the women’s final.
But her performance here today proved beyond any doubt her billing as one of world’s top young prospects, as she bullied Hingis into an unlikely changing of the guard on Centre Court.
The Romanian held her own in the opening stages but it was a slip in the ninth game that proved the turning point. The fall caused further injury to Bogdan but at 0-30 on the Hingis serve she was determined to carry on.
Hingis fought back as the youngster’s movement looked laboured, but the injury forced Bogdan to go on the attack, hitting a succession of winners and keeping the points short.
Her powerful groundstrokes took their toll on an aging Hingis and the Romanian broke for the first time before serving out to win the set 6-4.
The 29-year-old hit back in the second though, almost as if both women began to register the prospect of an upset. Hingis raced into a 4-1 lead but with it crept in complacency and Bogdan took advantage.
The youngster broke back and won three games in a row to level at 4-4, as Bogdan and Centre Court began to believe.
The 17-year-old handled her nerves brilliantly and seemed to use her injury as motivation to break for a second time and serve for the match.
In doing so, it would have been natural for the Romanian to falter, but she did anything but, quickly securing three match points before serving out with an ace to win the biggest match of her career.
“It’s a pleasure for me to play against Martina, she was one of the best players in the world and she still is.
It’s true that I had a lot of emotions on the court because she is who she is but I just played my best, it was unbelievable.
Meanwhile Hingis remained gracious in defeat, praising the youngster’s impressive performance:
“She played very well, I had my chances in the second set but I let it go, but she played wonderful. She’ll be here for a while longer that’s for sure.
She’s back here again this year – and hoping for another notable scalp as a springboard for further progress up the WTA rankings.