By Anita Stahl

  • Elise Mertens [4] v Mihaela Buzarnescu [5] | Mertens leads H2H 3-0
  • Danielle Collins v Maria Sakkari | first meeting
SAN JOSÉ, CALIFORNIA, USA – With fan favourites gone, who will shine as we reach the business end of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic?

 

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Elise Mertens [4] v Mihaela Buzarnescu [5] | Mertens leads H2H 3-0

Elise Mertens in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, WTA San Jose 2018

Elise Mertens in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, WTA San Jose 2018 | Anita Stahl

These two semi-finalists have played each other on three occasions, but two of those were clay $25k tournaments in 2015. In the last three years, Elise Mertens has shifted her style from focusing on solid defence to taking more risks and aiming for the lines. So far in San José, she has been hitting them. Her most recent encounter against Mihaela Buzarnescu is the most telling; they last faced each other in the 2018 final in Hobart. Mertens won the match 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in 2:31 hours. While Mertens took a few minutes to get into her match against Johanna Konta, she has demonstrated great consistency and tenacity at the tournament so far.

Mertens knows that with her sudden rise in the rankings, she has a new target on her back. The increased visibility also makes it easier for opponents to scout her, but she would not have it any other way.

“They know a bit of my weaknesses now I guess because I’m on WTA TV more. So they can just look a little bit. But no, I guess just making results also is a great deal, a great thing and people look at you a little bit more I guess.”

Prediction: Mertens in straight sets.

 

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Danielle Collins v Maria Sakkari | First Meeting

Danielle Collins in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, WTA San Jose 2018

Danielle Collins in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, WTA San Jose 2018 | Anita Stahl

American Danielle Collins had her break through this year with a victory over Madison Keys at Indian Wells, which she backed up in Miami with victories over Venus Williams and Coco Vandeweghe. This week just a year ago to the day, she was stuck in Lexington, Kentucky unable to compete in a $60k because she contracted norovirus.

Maria Sakkari is a relative newcomer herself. Her breakthrough happened with a 2017 victory over Caroline Wozniacki in Wuhan. The Greek has had great success playing at the “Home of the Spartans” as the team at San Jose State University is known.

While Sakkari has a calm and collected approach marked by joy of playing, Collins is known for her temper on the court. What they share is their primary weapon: fitness. Both used their ability to keep getting balls back without ever tiring as a strategy for their quarter-final matches. In the semi-final, expect marathon rallies between two scrambling players trying to outlast each other. Sakkari does have one secret weapon though: one of Collins’s former training partners is working with Sakkari on-site and can give her strategic insight for their first encounter.

Prediction: Sakkari in three sets

 

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