By Anita Stahl

  • Mihaela Buzarnescu v Maria Sakkari in Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic | First meeting
  • Win will mark debut title for either player
SAN JOSÉ, CALIFORNIA, USA – The debut Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic comes to a conclusion Sunday. Mihaela Buzarnescu [5] plays Maria Sakkari in the final.

 

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Mihaela Buzarnescu [5] v Maria Sakkari | First Meeting

Mihaela Buzarnescu in the quarter-final of the Mubadala Silican Valley Classic, WTA San Jose 2018

Mihaela Buzarnescu in the quarter-final of the Mubadala Silican Valley Classic, WTA San Jose 2018 | Anita Stahl

The debut Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic comes to a conclusion Sunday. Mihaela Buzarnescu [5] plays Maria Sakkari in the final. This is the first Premier final for both players and it comes in a tournament defined not only by upsets but outstanding performances from up and coming players as well as withdrawals and retirements from fan favourites.

At 30 years old, Buzarnescu is an unlikely upstart, but after a career plagued with injuries, she is finally trusting her body, beating top 20 players, and making deep runs into big tournaments.  She has made finals in Prage and Hobart, but lost both.

“It’s been a really nice week because all last week I didn’t practice at all. I had a small injury after the WTA in Bucharest so I had to pull out from Moscow so I was really concerned of how I would play, it’s going to be a different surface again and I was emotional because of that after my first match because I was really happy I was able win.

“Now getting to the final where I actually didn’t think, I thought I’m going to lose first round, it’s amazing it’s really I’m happy about it and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s final.”

Sakkari’s best previous result was a semi-final in Istanbul, but despite her relatively unknown status among casual tennis fans, she has managed to quickly find a fan following in San Jose because of her heritage. San Jose State University is known as the home of the Spartans, and local fans have adopted Sakkari, the daughter of a Spartan, to be their favorite. The university went so far as to offer her a football scholarship.

In her San Jose matches so far, Sakkari has had to repeatedly claw her way back into a match after trailing significantly, and she is learning to make the necessary attitude adjustments herself quicker.

“Obviously it’s not easy to [shift your attitude], but it’s something that you have to try and change. I think all the players have ups and downs so we are human, we can’t always think positive and be pumped and if things don’t go well you might not feel great so you start thinking negative. But yes, it helped me, what he said helped me so I think I’m going to try and do it by myself next time.”

In this final, don’t be deceived if you see Sakkari down a set and four breaks, because it was from there that she came back to beat Danielle Collins. Buzarnescu will enter the match significantly more fatigued, having played through to the doubles semi-finals and spending 7:28 hours on the singles court, while Sakkari has only played 6:10 hours this week.

Prediction: Sakkari in three sets

 

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