I don't think it was peak level FH AT ALL. Sure, it was a big FH day, just because Ana walked into the match with an aggressive mindset.. which she had not done in all of her time with Nigel.. so she mostly went for her FHs.. tough by end of the 3rd set she was already taking some out of it, hitting it slower.. maybe due to fitness. Ana's peak FH had more weight of shot though. She was hitting laser like in the first set, but that's more speed than weight. Ana's peak FH had more weight than speed, which made it that much harder for the opponent to do anything with it. Now Ana can have a few big FHs that the opponent can still return with interest.
But yes, her FH is still world class when she goes into matches with an aggressive mindset.. its still super difficult to read, which is why Vika got wrong footed so many times.
Well, I'm saying also that she needs to be aggressive, but it's more stable than it was, I like it. She still can hit plenty of winners, go for amazing angles without going for too much. TL23 mentioned 2007, in those times I feel like her serve was even a bit better than forehand. And the forehand was too erratic back then. I think that when she's aggressive, but calmed, her point construction with forehand is actually better than it was during her teenage years, when she was hitting it as hard as possible. But that's such a normal thing for a young player. Adding some muscles and getting fitter would do a miracle. It would be a lot easier to hit heavier and deeper on a consistent level during a long match against quality opposition. If she could do that, it would be the best fh after Graf's definitely, it's a killer shot even as it is.
I do agree that her serve is the biggest difference and what may prevent Ana from ever doing really well again. Ana used to have a world class serve and she took a lot of her confidence from that. Now, she has a good 1st serve with a pathetic 2nd serve. So if she is hitting 1st serves, its fine.. its still a pretty good serve, though not even a shadow of what it once was.. but if her percentage drops, her 2nd serve is completely unreliable.. its attackable, it has no variation, its slow.. and she just doesn't trust it, which spills into her game. I do think that her mentality issues directly affect the serve, more than anything and before anything.. so the moment mind goes, 1st serve goes as well.. and then she has to play on her 2nd serve, which is just not good at all. I think she accepts her current serve, but her mind is already gone and panicking and the 1st serve being gone is a sympton of that.
I don't know what can be done with that 2nd serve. It's like Aga's. Sometimes she hits a good slice serve, but, for whatever reason, that's rare.
I would have to disagree on the movement.. 2008 Ana and late 2010 Ana were 10 times faster than right now. And one thing this match against Vika, and the one before against McHale showed is how much trouble Ana is having with transition game, with moving foward.. Vika was made to look like drop shot queen by Ana.. and some of those drop shots werent that good. Ana moves ok from side to side, but her movement up to the net is horrible. I'm not even going to talk about her actual net game.. that was tragic, and I miss the old 2008 days when she won Linz on net game alone.
I agree about moving forward. I'm usually on the edge of my seat when someone hits a drop shot against her, so I didn't even take a good look. I can't tell if she's too slow when moving forward or she starts moving forward when it's already too late. She has a potential to have pretty good net skills, I'm not sure what's her problem. Maybe the thing that Ben said, perhaps she doesn't work on her volleys atm. Just remember the matches against Kvitova in FC, Pironkova in USO, Woz in IW, even Sam in Moscow... So many good volleys and drop shots. How did that disappear?