Zhang dominates Raducanu in feature match on Day 1 at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic


by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE–The Mumbadala Silicon Valley Classic returned to the San Jose State University Tennis Complex for 2021 on Monday after a year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The feature match during the evening was one that crossed the generations. Zhang Shuai of China ,who is 32 years of age, went up against 18-year old sensation Emma Raducanu of the United Kingdom.

Zhang dominated the match winning in straight sets 6-3 6-2 as she proved to be too much for the future face of women’s tennis in Raducanu.

“I still think I’m at the very beginning of my journey,” said Raducanu after the match. “Every opportunity I get, I’m very grateful for because I feel like I’m constantly learning. I just wanted to to enjoy the moment while I was out there and to keep enjoying what I’m doing.”

Raducanu took the world by storm last month at Wimbledon as she advanced to the fourth only to have withdraw from her match with Ajla Tomljanovic due to a medical condition that forced her to retire. She had trouble keeping up with the strong volleys from Zhang throughout the match.

“Emma she played really well,” Zhang said after the match. “For me, I just played my game. I tried to open the court (up). If I had a chance come to the net (and be aggressive). I was very lucky, everything went right (for me) today.”

Raducanu, who came into the tournament as one of the two wild cards in the main draw, says she is just at the start of what looks to be a promising career as this was just her second WTA tournament. She loved being the fan favorite during the match.

“It’s an amazing experience to be honest. The fans were so supportive, I was loving it, all of their support. Especially here in the (United) States where it’s not the home (crowd) support, I was really appreciative.”

In a battle of two Americans, Alison Riske defeated Coco Vandeweghe in straight sets 6-3 6-4 in the final match of day play. Riske won nine games in a row after losing the first three games to start the match.

Vandeweghe, despite her strong serve, wasn’t able to overcome her unforced errors that had her talking to herself at times. Riske took advantage and was able to keep momentum on her side.

“I played a sloppy first service game ,” said Riske. “I thought ‘oh no here we go’. I was really happy how I rebounded and stayed true to the game plan. It kind of unfolded really quickly for me and honestly I’m just grateful to have gotten the win.”

Riske used her double-backhand as her main weapon throughout the match. She held serve to finish off her victory in just under an hour and a half.

“Yeah my backhand (shot) has been my ride or die for my career. I’m definitely comfortable hitting it,” Riske said.

In earlier singles matches during the day time 33rd ranked Petra Martic of Croatia defeated Lativa’s Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets 6-3 6-3 to advance to the round of 16.

Poland’s Magda Linette beat Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove of the Netherlands in straight sets 6-3 6-3 and Croatia’s Ana Konjuh won a spirited three-set battle with Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova 7-5 3-6 7-5.

The last match of the evening had Caroline Garcia of France end the Cinderella run of American Emina Bektas in straight sets 6-3 6-4. Betkas earned her way to the main draw after winning two matches in the qualifying tournament. The former University of Michigan standout until early in the morning this past Saturday after a illness to Catherine McNally freed up a spot for her to participate in the qualifying tournament.

In doubles play, the team of Darija Jurak (CRO) and Andreja Klepac (SLO) defeated the team of American Amanda Anisimova and Russian Anastasia Potapova 6-3 5-7 (10-8).

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