By Anita Stahl
- Danielle Collins def. Victoria Azarenka 6-7(4), 3-0, Retired
- Maria Sakkari def. Venus Williams 6-4, 7-6(2)
- Elise Mertens  def. Johanna Konta 7-6(4), 6-3
- Mihaela Buzarnescu def. Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 7-5
SAN JOSÉ, CALIFORNIA, USA – The Mubadala Silicon Valley quarter-finals saw fan favourites Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka bow out.
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The 2018 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic has not been easy on casual tennis fans and the super star players they support. Maria Sharapova and Coco Vandeweghe withdrew before the event got underway. Serena Williams was eliminated in the first round, in what would be the most lopsided defeat of her career. Madison Keys and Garbiñe Muguruza withdrew just before their first matches and were replaced by lucky losers. The quarter-final round took its toll on Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka.
Danielle Collins def. Victoria Azarenka 6-7(4), 3-0, RET
American Danielle Collins pushed Azarenka to a first set tie break and went on to win the first three games of the second set. After having to receive medical treatment, however, Azarenka chose to retire, citing back pain.
Before the the premature ending to the match, Collins was committed to the long haul.
“I had the feeling that it was going to take a while for my strategy to start working. I think that you watch a lot of her matches and she comes out really hot and I unfortunately did not come out hot those first two games so I was kind of playing from behind the entire way through.
I really wanted to make the match as physical as possible because that’s one of my weapons and something I felt I could really expose on her. I think that really started to show at the end of the first set and then going into the second set and I just kind of had to keep my foot on the gas and even if there were times when I lost some long points or she came up with a really good shot.
“I just kind of had to keep that mentality of getting every extra ball back, that I could and just keep running after everything and making it as physical as possible.”
Maria Sakkari def. Venus Williams 6-4, 7-6(2)
Williams took an early lead, up 3-0 in the first set, at which point Maria Sakkari found her rhythm and held serve and broke twice. In the second set, Williams broke early again, but Sakkari broke right back for 1-2 and quickly 3-2. The set was eventually pushed to tie break, at which point Williams began to falter in her serve and Sakkari took a 6-1 lead before winning at 2.
Sakkari’s strategy against Williams was the same Collins deployed against Azarenka.
“I was ready for a battle and ready to play against Venus Williams. My serve was not doing great, but my baseline game was very good. I never stopped fighting, believing that I could win the match.
“I knew that my serve was not there, so I was trying to do the most that I could–fighting, running, making all the balls and just trying to push her back and left and right.”
Some point to the Greek’s short stature compared to the American as a potential weakness, but Sakkari is unconcerned and knows what her strengths are and how to use them
“Obviously I’m not 185(cm). I’m not very big. I’m strong but I don’t have a big serve. I have to play with my weapons and my weapons are my physical condition, my being solid inside the court, and making a lot of balls, that’s it. If her baseline game wasn’t going well, she’d try to come to the net, return and come at the net. I just stayed calm.”
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Elise Mertens  def. Johanna Konta 7-6(4), 6-3
Belgian Elise Mertens  defeated Brit Johanna Konta 7-6(4), 6-3. The 2016 champion of the tournament’s predecessor in Stanford blazed into the match with an early lead. Konta held serve in the first game, broke Mertens in the second and took the third at love with two aces—all in nine minutes. Mertens, however, played herself into the match after the assaulting first three games and held three times before breaking back for 4-5. In a first set tie-break, Mertens showed why she has made a run on the rankings this season, fighting past two set points.
Mihaela Buzarnescu  def. Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 7-5
Mihaela Buzarnescu has had quiet success in this Premier event, producing great results without the most impressive numbers to back them. Her second round match against qualifier Amanda Anisimova almost took her out of contention. In the 7-5, 2-6, 6-1 match, the final score does not reflect how close Anismova was to winning. In her quarter-final match against Ajla Tomljanovic, who herself benefited from Keys’ withdrawal, Buzarnescu managed to win with a 50% average first serve percentage. In the hour long second set, she served at 43%.
The Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic semi-finals are Saturday.
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