SAN JOSE-8-6-21 CROATIA’S ANA KONJUH WINS A POINT AGAINST CHINA’S ZHANG SHUAI IN HER QUARTERFINALS MATCH SHE WON IN THREE SETS TO ADVANCE TO THE SEMIFINALS OF THE MUBADALA SILICON VALLEY CLASSIC ON SATURDAY. Courtesy of Sports Radio Service
by Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE–Danielle Collins keep on rolling along.
Collins defeated Russian Elena Rybakina in straight sets 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) in an intense quarterfinal matchup on Day 5 at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at the San Jose State University Tennis Complex.
Collins over came blistering serves by Rybakina (her highest was 119mph) and played her game to eventually outlast Rybakina in both tiebreakers.
The match featured multiple long rallies in both sets that worked to Collin’s advantage.
“I had to be patient and at certain times I had to tell myself to be more aggressive here, don’t be as passive. Don’t be afraid to go for it. So yeah trying to work each point very tacitly and keep her guessing,” Collins said.
For Rybakina, she takes away a learning experience from her first MSVC tournament.
“I think it was good preparation for (me playing) in the next tournament,” said Rybakina. “It was the first time (I had to deal with a) time difference of 16 hours (coming from Tokyo). For now I need more matches, more experience.”
Wild card sensation Ana Konjuh of Croatia kept her magical run going with her three-sets defeat 3-6 6-2 6-0 over China’s Zhang Shuai in her quarterfinal match earlier in the afternoon.
Zhang jumped out early in the first set as she won 67% of her first serve points won and four out of five break points saved.
“I tried to play aggressive,” said Zhang. “But it did not work out. I made a lot of mistakes. She (Konjuh) had a very good serve and it was tough to return. Tough to win points out there.”
Konjuh opened the second set with two straights win. Zhang closed the gap to 2-3 before the 23-year old native of Dubrovnik finished the match winning the last nine games in a row to punch her ticket to the semifinals on Saturday.
“I had this match under control in a sense,” said Konjuh. “I knew I had to keep my serves that was the big key. I didn’t let her win any games that she didn’t really deserve.”
Konjuh’s used her powerful serve as her main weapon against Zhang. Konjuh finished with eight aces and a first serve percentage of 64.4%.
“I knew she (Zhang) couldn’t be aggressive if I actually put more of my first serve in (play). Just making sure I was in charge of the points in the beginning.”
It helped to have family in the stands for Konjuh, who has cousin living in the South Bay area, in having a bit of a home court advantage.
“It feels awesome. Just to have the fans back in the stands for the atmosphere again. Putting on a show for them, it’s really nice, especially with my family there as well. They’ve been kind of a good luck charm (for me) this week,” Konjuh said.
Russia’s Daria Kasatkina defeated Poland’s Magda Linette in a fierce three-set victory 6-4 3-6 6-4 to clinch her way into the semifinals on Saturday.
Kasatkina had her serve working well in the first set. Linette evened it up in the second set using her speed and a strong return game. Down 1-3 in the third set, the 24-year old native of Russia, rallied back to go up 5-4 and was able to close out the match.
“It was a tough match,” said Kasatkina. “Every set was a different story. It was a very tense moments at the end of the third set and I was happy I was better at the end in that moment.”
Linette admits her downfall in the match was too many mistakes in the third set.
“I just made too many mistakes there and let her (Kasatkina) come back,” said Linette. “She (Kasatkina) was changing the rhythm a lot, but I dont think the balls were, in many cases, as difficult for me to not set up my legs. I think I was too lazy with my left shoulder, too slow. My balls didn’t have as much quality (on them) as my previous matches.”
Kasatkina felt more confident after tying the score at 3-3 in the third set.
“When the score changed from 1-3 to 3-3, from that point I started to feel much better (about my game). As we say in Russian, ‘my plate’. I felt I was back and if I made another step forward I would have my chances to close out the match,” Kasatkina said.
Elise Mertens had to battle hard for every point she earned against Yulia Putintseva in a straight sets victory 6-3 7-6 (10-8).
Mertens was in total control only losing three games in the first set. In the second set, Putintseva came on strong and forced Mertens into numerous mishits during the set.
It looked like Putintseva was going to force a third set when she broke serve to even the set at 5-5 and then went up 6-5. However, Mertens never say die attitude forced the 6-6 tiebreaker.
In the tiebreaker, Putintseva had three set point chances to put away Mertens but each time the 25-year old Belgian came back to even the tiebreaker before eventually winning the last two points to win the tiebreaker 10-8 and the match.
“I think it was a little bit of change at the end,” said Mertens. “She (Putintseva) had some set points. I think keeping my serve in. The first serve was very important. I wanted to win so badly, I wanted to win in two sets. So I really had to go for it.”
Putintseva credited Mertens with having a really good serve during the match.
“She had a good serve. So every time she serves she has an advantage. I think (playing) the baseline is more of my game. Her game is to build it up, three of four shots, (play) aggressive) and my game is to stay there for every point and get into long rallies as long as I can,” Putintseva said.
Mertens is now 2-1 against Putintseva as the two squared off twice against each other in 2020. Mertens will face off against Kastkina in the first semifinal on Saturday.
In doubles actions the Croatian/Slovenian team of Andreja Kelpac and Daria Jurak defeated the Great Britain/American team of Tara Moore and Emna Bektas in straight sets 6-2 6-3 to advanced to the semifinals on Saturday.
The Canadian/Brazilian team of Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani beat the young American duo of Ashlyn Krueger and Robin Montgomery in straight sets 6-4 6-2 to have their place in the semifinals.
Saturday’s singles semifinals matchup:
Elise Mertens vs Daria Kasatkina at 3:00pm
Ana Konjuh vs Danielle Collins at 6:00pm