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The LTA Receive A Small Lift: Baltacha Defeats Top 10 Player

INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 12:  Elena Baltacha of Great Britain returns a shot to Li Na of China during the BNP Paribas Open on March 12, 2010 in Indian Wells, California.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Antony HerbertAnalyst IIIMarch 13, 2010

With the recent Davis Cup defeat against Lithuania, the LTA has come under a mass of intense scrutiny. Infighting and blame games have become common place as the players and the coaches are lynched by the media for the poor overall performance of the team.

Yet for Elena Baltacha such criticsm was taken in her stride today, as she pushed top ten seeded Na Li right to the edge in the second round of Indian Wells.

After already defeating two seeded Bondarenko sisters at the most recent Wimbledon and the Australian Open tournaments she has looked in the form of her life as she aims to claim a top fifty ranking position. 

After taking the first set on a very tight tie-break, she faltered somewhat in the second set by only winning her serve on one occasion.

Such an easy loss of a second set has usually set her on a steep decline in the final set. Although this predictable behavioural pattern has improved as the Scottish player has gained in confidence and credibility in the past couple of years.

In the fighter spirit we are used to with Elena she bounced back in the final set. She overcame an early break of serve by her opponent, by breaking straight back. Both players then traded service game wins until reaching the tense 6-6 position.

Even a defeat at this point, whilst it would be frustrating for Elena, would be considered a remarkable feat someone so demolished by two high ranked players in prior meetings. Both Safina and Sharapova embarrassed her in easy fashion.

Few will forget of course the display of dominance shown by Dinara Safina when she destroyed Elena in the 3rd round of the Aussie Open.

Such is the transformation of Elena though, that she has proved herself today capable of playing those ranked in the top 20.

She matched Na Li well, and saved two match points before bringing the tie break back to 6-6. A third match point was then saved. Elena could seize her opportunity if she could just turn the tables and earn a match point of her own. And then she did it. On her serve she had the chance she craved.

Taking it at the first point of asking she will no doubt elevate herself high into the headlines in the morning news. Victory is well and truly hers.

Na Li is also arguably more of a difficult challenge, as this top ten player is in a form that eclipses that of Elena’s previous top ten opponent in Safina. Such a victory then is beautiful in its occurrence.

It is a repetitive but known fact that Elena’s early injuries majorly halted her career. What really could have been if she hadn't faced any of these tribulations is anyones guess.

She is now however, definately a player on the up and hopefully on the march to a seeded ranking in the coming months. 

With only a handful of years possibly left in her career, if this event was to come into fruition it would be an admirable achievement of damage limitation.

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