Sorana Cirstea of Romania knew from an early age — actually, an extremely early age — that her career path was going to be hitting a ball back and forth over a net.
“From 5, 6 or 7, I had already decided that I wanted to be a professional tennis player,” she said. “For me, tennis was always serious from the beginning.”
The decision on her future appears to be a wise one.
On Sunday, her career path took another big upward swing, an apt description since much of her life is now consumed by tennis and making good swings. Cirstea, ranked 28th in the world, defeated Angelique Kerber of Germany, ranked No. 6, in dominating fashion 6-4, 6-0 in the Sony Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center at Key Biscayne.
It took all of 58 minutes for Cirstea, 22, to walk away a winner.
“It’s a nice feeling to win and go to the next match,” said Cirstea, who advances to the fourth round and will play former world No. 1 Jalena Jankovic, who defeated Nadia Petrova 7-6 (9-7), 6-4.
Asked if she could beat Jankovic and possibly win the tournament, Cirstea cautiously replied, “I’m not thinking too much about any of that. Just trying to focus, trying to do my best.
“To be honest, I had no high expectations coming in. I haven’t played well here in Miami in the past. I’m just trying to work my way through every single match, and so far it has been working. I’ve been playing better from week to week — been playing more consistent. When you work hard, it’s nice to see the results coming.
“I think everything went like it was supposed to in this match,” Cirstea said.
Cirstea, who speaks Romanian, English, French and Spanish, started playing at age 4 in Bucharest, under the guidance of her parents, father Mihai and mother Liliani.
“They are the reason I started to play tennis and I guess they are the ones I should thank for getting me into it,” she said. “I’m grateful they did. I didn’t really know what I was doing [at first].”
Maybe she should be forgiven, since most 4-year-olds don’t have a perfect grasp on pretty much of anything they do at that age. She certainly knows what she’s doing now, and, maybe more importantly, knows what she likes doing.
“I loved tennis back then, and I love it now,” she said. “I just love this sport, even with the ups and down.”
And then, of Sunday’s victory, she said, “I love moments like this.”
Boca Raton’s Lauren Davis, who got into the tournament as the “Lucky Loser” after being defeated in qualifying, had the good fortune of getting into the main field when Victoria Azarenka withdrew. The bad fortune came Sunday when Davis suffered a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 defeat from France’s Alize Cornet.