By Anita Stahl

  • Mihaela Buzarnescu [5] defeats Elise Mertens [4] 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
  • Maria Sakkari defeats Danielle Collins 3-6, 7-5, 6-2
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, USA – Mihaela Buzarnescu and Maria Sakkari each survived three set matches to reach the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic final.

 

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Mihaela Buzarnescu [5] def. Elise Mertens [4] 4-6, 6-3, 6-1

Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu fought her way past Belgian Elise Mertens for a spot in the final. The match was tight early on, with the first game going to deuce twice before Mertens broke. The set would take a full 56 minutes to conclude.

The conditions were tough on both players. While Mertens appeared to struggle with the wind, Buzarnescu struggled with the dry heat. The Romanian managed to fight through it, however.

“For both of us I think we had really bad conditions because it was really hot and dry but I just tried to stay positive and be more aggressive with her and just keep my calm and play every ball inside the court.”

Her strategy took hold early in the second set. Mertens began the set with a break, but lost control of the match and allowed Buzarnescu to advance to a 4-1 lead. Mertens recovered briefly, driving the score to 4-3 with a break and a hold, before Buzarnescu ran away with the rest of the match.

“I think it was early in the second set when I broke her so I got more confidence and just kept being positive from that point.”

The victory will bring the Romanian a personal record high ranking Monday, driving her to the top 20 if she wins the title.

 

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Maria Sakkari def. Danielle Collins 3-6, 7-5, 6-2

Maria Sakkari in the semi-final of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, WTA San Jose 2018

Maria Sakkari in the semi-final of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, WTA San Jose 2018 | AS

At San Jose State University, home of the Spartans, the actual Spartan Maria Sakkari defeated American Danielle Collins in three sets. Collins took early control of the set, taking a 4-1 lead after a break in the fourth game and finally taking the set 6-3. In the second set she broke Sakkari’s second and third service games to lead 4-1 again.

Down a set and 4-1, Sakkari found renewed energy after speaking wither her coach.

“I was playing terrible I have to say not moving well, serving really bad. Nothing was going well until coach Tom walked on court and gave me some good words and good advice so he encouraged me and then my tennis came out  and I started playing better.

“It was not so much, I was not playing well because I was not positive so being more positive then I started playing better. My tennis was there I have been playing very good tennis for the last five days. I knew that it was there. I knew that something has to change and it was from being negative to being positive.”

With Sakkari back on the attack, Collins felt the pressure and tightened up, beginning to hit unforced errors and  Sakkari took advantage.

“She was serving well, really well. She was finding the T serve really good and the wide serve on the outside but then when things got tighter her serve got worse and I could attack it easier.”

Collins recognized what Sakkari was doing, but was helpless to stop it as her own game began to fail her.

“I think at 4-1 in the second she really started stepping up inside the baseline and started to put her foot on the gas and luckily for her, I think it helped her get back into a rhythm and start the match over playing more aggressive and then really just changing the way she was approaching the match over all and threw me off a little bit. She played some really great tennis so kudos to her.”

Sakkari will face Buzarnescu in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic final, at WTA San Jose on Sunday, 2pm (10pm BST).

 

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