That’s Amaury News and Commentary: WTA Suspends all Tournaments in China

Peng Shuai Chinese tennis superstar is seen here at the women’s singles match against Samantha Stosur of Australia on the second day at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, on July 3, 2018. Peng’s disappearance is one of the major reasons why the WTA is pulling out from the 2022 Olympics in Beijing (AP News file photo)

WTA Suspends all Tournaments in China

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

The Women’s Tennis Association is suspending all tournaments in China, including Hong Kong. The announcement was made by WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon. This decision comes after Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai alleged she was sexually assaulted by Zhang Gaoli, former Vice Premier of China.

This suspension of activities also includes Hong Kong, aside from China. After Peng made the announcement on social media the Chinese government deleted her post on the site Weibo and also her account. For weeks there has been concern for the safety of the Chinese tennis star.

Mr. Steve Simon said: “Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way. While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation,” Simon said in the statement. “The WTA has been clear on what is needed here, and we repeat our call for a full and transparent investigation – without censorship – into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault accusation.”

It is not clear how many tournament this suspension will affect but Simon said he is “greatly concerned” of the risks all players will face if they were to play in China.

The 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled for Beijing, China on February 2. There is world pressure on companies to speak on defense of Peng Shuai and, at worst; the United States could boycott the Olympics.

According to the UN, Communist China continues to show disregard for human rights in many issues, including forced labor camps for minorities. It is believed that China as it was estimated that Chinese authorities may have detained up to 1.5 million people mostly groups of ethnic Muslims and Christians in internment camps.

The WTA (World Tennis Association) has shown a lot of balls in defense of this Chinese tennis star. So far no other sports league in the US has supported the WTA, who is picking principals over materialism, as they stand to lose a lot of money by this move.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Mystery in the Tennis World Where is Peng Shuai?

Peng Shuai seen in first round match against Japan’s Nao Habino at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Jan 21, 2020. Has contacted the IOC and informed them that she well and safe and in Beijing (AP News file photo)

Mystery in the Tennis World: Where is Peng Shuai?

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

Ms.Peng Shuai is 35, from China and one of the top professional tennis players in the world. She is ranked #1 in doubles in the world by the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association). This top women’s tennis association was founded in 1973 by Billy Jean King in London, England, with US headquarters in St.Petersburg, Florida.

Ms.Peng recently accused Mr.Zhang Gaoli, 75, a retired politician who served as the senior Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China from 2013 to 2018 and a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, which is China’s highest ruling council.

According to Ms.Peng, Mr. Gaoli invited her to his home about 3 years ago and that she was raped. “That afternoon I didn’t consent at first” and added “I was crying the entire time”. Ms.Peng Shuai wrote a note on November 2 on Weibo (a Chinese social platform) and in this post she made the announcement to the public.

Since then she has not been seen in person. Last week there was a statement that it was released by the Chinese media and allegedly was written by Ms.Shuai. However, it looked contrived and many are concerned that she did not write it, but was produced from the government.

According to the New York Times, the tennis star disappeared from public view after she made the accusation. This weekend the editor of a Communist Party controlled newspaper posted a video clip that appeared to show Ms.Peng eating at a restaurant and later at a tennis event in Beijing. But the world has little confidence on what the Communist controlled media of China releases to the world. Steve Simon an official of the WTA said he remained skeptical that Ms.Peng was making decisions freely.

During the covid-19 pandemic, record shows that many doctors and virologist spoke about this virus in a way not beneficial to the government and were quickly silenced. Many disappeared and have not been seen since the beginning of the epidemic that according to most “in the known” began at the Wuhan Laboratories. China’s communist government has a long record of their treatment of people who threaten to undermine public confidence in the party’s senior leaders.

Even before this incident was revealed the United States was and still considering a move to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing this next February for their dismal record in human rights violations. It is believed that Chinese authorities may have detained between 1.5 to 2 million people, mostly Uyghurs and other ethnic Muslims and Christians and have internment into secret camps of forced labor.

For Ms.Peng Shuai is just another incident that is “piling on” the Chinese government record and treatment of humans in all sectors of life. The United Nations lists China as one of the top world human rights violators.

When it comes to the media in China, it is understood that unlike here in the US, where you have all types of opinions and most are never censored by the government, in China, the media can be censored because they are directly under the rule and control of their government. In other world; what the Chinese media says, is basically the official word of the communist government of that country and Sports are also under the control of that government.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez does News and Commentary podcasts each Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Collins defeats Kasatkina to capture Mubadala Silicon Valley Championship in a three set victory

8-8-21-SAN JOSE-DANIELLE COLLINS POSES WITH HER CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY TALKING TO THE MEDIA AFTER HER THREE SETS VICTORY OVER DARIA KASATKINA TO WIN THE MUBADALA SILICON VALLEY CLASSIC FINALS. Courtesy of Sports Radio Service.

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE—Danielle Collins is living up on cloud nine.

The American came into San Jose on fire, winning the Palermo Open, and left town scorching as she defeated Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in an emotional three-sets victory 6-3 6-7 (11-9) 6-1 to conclude the 50th anniversary of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic on Sunday afternoon at the San Jose State Tennis Complex.

It is the second straight tournament championship for Collins as well as the second of her career.

It has not been all beds of roses for Collins in 2021. The 27-year old budding tennis star had surgery back in April for endometriosis. The condition is where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb grow elsewhere in the body. It caused her too much physical agony.

“Before my surgery, I was having to pull out of so many tournaments because of what I was dealing with my endometriosis,”, said Collins. “Now that I’m feeling better, it’s hard for me to think back to all of the weeks and days and months of having to deal with that. Always having to work around my training, always having to take stuff for (the pain) and not have it get any better. So I’m just trying to embrace every moment of feeling good.”

Collins broke serve in the first set when she was up 4-3 and used that momentum to close out the set.

In the second set Kasatkina was down 5-3 and ended up breaking serve at 4-4. However Collins rallied to tie it up at 6-6, sending the second set in an epic tiebreaker.

The tiebreaker went back and forth with neither player budging. A couple times during the tiebreaker Collins became frustrated with fans cheering before the point was over. Kasatkina seized the moment and ended up winning the tiebreaker 11-9 to force the deciding third set.

In the third set, Collins regained her form and was able to control the final seven games as Kasatkina looked to be running on fumes the rest of the way.

“I did get the sense that (with) my tactics I was doing the right thing,” said Collins. I did feel I was wearing her down a little bit. I was really persistent, (saying to myself) I got this. “

Collins had Kasatkina running up and down the court throughout the entire match and it proved to be too much for Kasatkina.

“She started up 2-0 in the beginning (of the third set),” said Kasatkina. “When (your) opponent is winning game by game in the third set and you already pretty tired, then yes it seems like the life is leaving your body.”

When asked after all she has been through with her physical well being, if she thought she would be a two-time winner this year, Collins would have never envisioned her recent success.

“It wasn’t even a thought in my brain. Honestly, one of my goals was to win a tournament this year. To now win two, it’s been…incredible. It’s still hard to comprehend that I’ve won two (tournaments) back to back. Like I said yesterday, that wouldn’t have been possible months ago, years ago. To be able to just know I can physically go out on the court and play with this type of stamina, this endurance, it means so much to me,” Collins said.

For her effort, Collins takes home the grand prize of $67,570 out of the total prize money of $565,530.

The team of Croatia’s Daria Jurak and Slovenia’s Andreja Klepac defeated the Brazilian-Canadian team of Luisa Stefani and Gabriela Dubrowski in straight sets 6-1 7-5 to capture the doubles championship earlier in the afternoon.

The Balkan duo dominated the first sets only losing one game to Stefani and Dubrowski. They had a first serve percentage of 73.3% and 10 out of 11 first serve points to cruise to the open set win.

“We were really hungry to win this tournament,” said Klepac. “Hungry to win the finals. I am happy with our performance.”

In the second set, Stefani and Dubrowski went up 5-4 and were on the verge of forcing the deciding tiebreaker third set. However, Jurak and Klepac broke serve and were able to finish off their opponents winning the last three games of the match and collect their trophies.

“Andeja (Klepac) was saying keep on going,” said Jurak. “Believe it can turn around. We can break them (on serve) again and that’s exactly what happened. We believed we could win even when we have some of the hiccups. I mean you’re human beings, it can happen.”

Jurak and Klepac compared their on court relationship to a husband and wife, when explaining how well their chemistry works.

“Well we’ve spent a lot of time together. “And I’m very demanding person. I want it too badly sometimes. She (Klepac) knows how to deal with it. That’s a huge deal for me. It’s like a marriage. When the woman says to the man, ‘ok shut up now I now understand!’. You know, she’s doing this to me. That’s how it goes (when you’re playing) in doubles,” Jurak said.

The team takes home $25,230 for winning the championship.

The Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic returns next year to the San Jose State University Tennis Complex in 2022 from August 1st-7th.

Collins storms her way into the MSVC finals in straight sets to highlight semifinals action

8-7-21—SAN JOSE DANIELLE COLLINS RETURNS A BALL FOR A POINT DURING HER SEMIFINALS MATHUP SHE WON IN STRAIGHT SETS TO ADVANCE TO THE FINALS AT THE MUBADALA SILICON VALLEY CLASSIC ON SATURDAY EVENING. Courtesy of Sports Radio Service.

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE—Danielle Collins is on a mission.

The number seventh only needed 52 minutes to dispose of Croatia’s Ana Konjuh in a straight sets victory 6-0 6-2 on Saturday evening at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at the San Jose State University Tennis Complex.

This will be Collins’ second final this season as she won the Palermo Open last month. Collins will be seeking her second straight championship and second of her career when she takes to the court on Sunday afternoon.

Collins, who won the first nine games and the last four of the match, had her serve working well for her with a 70% first serve percentage. What was even more impressive was her winning 16 out of 17 second return points.

“I think that’s one of the strengths in my game, said the 27-year native of St. Petersburg, Florida. “I usually have a pretty descent percentage of points won on their second serve because of how aggressive I play. So I try to use that as one of my weapons. I try to be relentless about it.”

On the opposite end, nothing went well for Konjuh who struggled with her first serve and return game, having six double faults and only winning 30% of her total points.

The 25-year old Croatian had an impressive run at the tournament. Konjuh came in as a wild card having to earn her way through the qualifying round. She won five of the six matches, the most played by any player this week, she participated in and said she will take away the positives she earn during her time in San Jose.

“For sure it was a good week for me,” said Konjuh. “I came here as a qualifier and didn’t expect much. I secured my place in the top 100 at the end of year, so I did what I came here to do. It’s a boost of confidence for me to do well even though I haven’t been playing that well “

In the other semifinal, number four seeded Daria Kasatkina cruised her way into the final after a straight sets victory over top seed Elise Mertens 6-3 6-2.

Kasatkina played with poise and patience throughout the match. She had timely returns that had Mertens guessing wrong on a few occasions. She broke serve twice in the second set and finished off the match winning the final three games in a row.

“During the game I’m studying the play,” said Kasatkina. “Whether I have to go for the big shot or to put more pressure that is what I will do. If I see my opponent is tense, I will play it accordingly. Every thing depends on a certain moment, also what the score is as well. And that is how I’ve played since I was a kid.”

Kasatkina utilized her serve during the match. She finished with four aces, a first serve percentage of 76.9% and won 82.5% of her first serve points.

Mertens struggle with her serve during both sets. She finished with seven double faults and only had a first serve percentage of 52.8%. Frustration grew for the 25-year native of Leuven, Belgium as her return game suffered, having only won seven out of 40 (17.5%) first return points.

“I felt like my legs were a little bit heavier (today),” said Mertens. “The energy was a little bit lower, I had a tough one (match) yesterday. She (Kasatkina) was hitting her spots. Her serve was doing well. I really wanted to win this one too but I couldn’t change it around.”

The Balkan team of Daria Jurak and Andreja Klepac defeated the American duo of Cathy McNally and Coco Vandeweghe in the first semifinal in straight sets 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (8-6) as both sets went to a tiebreaker.

Klepac and Durak jumped ahead in each set only to have McNally and Vandeweghe rally back each time to force the tiebreaker. In the first tiebreaker the Croatian-Slovenian team of Klepac and Durak easily handed the Americans winning the first tiebreaker 7-2. Then in the second tiebreaker the teams went back and forth, each scoring four unanswered points. Klepac-Durak finished the match winning the final two point to punch their ticket to the final on Sunday.

Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani defeated Ellen Perez and Kveta Pesche in a three-sets victory 6-3 4-6 10-8 to secure the final spot in the doubles finals.

Singles Finals matchup:

Daria Kasatkina vs Danielle Collins at 4:00pm.

Collins outlasts Rybankina highlighting quarterfinal play at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic

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

Collins takes down Stephens in three set classic to highlight Day 4 of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic

8-5-21—DANIELLE COLLINS RETURNS A SERVE DURING HER THREE SETS VICTORY OVER SLOANE STEPHENS ON MONDAY EVENING AT THE MUBADALA SILICON VALLEY CLASSIC. Courtesy of Sports Radio Service

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE–Danielle Collins is not afraid to be emotional on a tennis court.

She rode a wave of emotion in coming back from a one set deficit to defeat Sloane Stephens in a three set victory 3-6 6-4 6-3 that was the crescendo of Day 4 at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at the San Jose State University Tennis Complex.

Stephens seized the momentum early when she won five straight games, three to finish off the first set and the first two of set two. Collins then turned the tables and won the next three to gain the momentum on her side.

“It was a really hard fight,” said Collins after the match. “I just really had to lock in to what I was doing. Take it point by point because it was hard at times, mentally and physically.”

Collins became emotional during the second set being upset at herself when she hit the net or hit a ball out of bounds. She then used that same emotion to win three straight games after the third set was tied at 2-2. Screaming at the crowd after each point she won, firing herself up as she closed out the match.

“Sometimes I get really locked in and I’m not doing that. And then I realized in the third set I’m like oh ok, I’m getting really fired up now. Where was this in the second set or even some of the points in the first set. I guess when it really matter I was able to get myself fired up” Collins said.

Number one seed Elise Mertens of Belgium defeated France’s Kristina Mladenovic in a difficult three set battle 6-2 4-6 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals on Friday.

After cruising through the first set only losing two games, Mertens faced a challenging test from Mladenovic who battled to even the match after going ahead 4-3 in the second set.

Mertens relied on her ability of having a strong return game. Mertens was able to outlast her opponent as she finished off the match winning the last two games.

“I think in the second set she (Mladenovic) started to fill the ball a little bit better. I just tried to struggle through. I think it was important to win the last ball and just keep fighting like I did today and hopefully my level (of play) will be a bit higher tomorrow.”

Second seeded Elena Rybakina of Russia need one set to get going before dispatching American Claire Liu in a three-set victory 2-6 6-0 6-2 victory finishing off the afternoon portion of the schedule.

Rybakina powered her way past Lui in the last two sets with huge serves that were to hot too handle for Lui. Rybakina fastest serve hit 116mph on the radar gun and she averaged over 100mph throughout the match.

“The serve was much better in the second set and third (set),” said Rybakina. “In the second set I focused a bit more on my serve. Overall it was a good match, a good win for me. I’m looking forward to the next one.”

Rybakina takes on Collins in the featured evening quarterfinal match on Friday at 7:00pm.

In the opening match of the day Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva won a hard fought three-sets battle over Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6-7-4 6-3.

Putintseva played with lots of emotion during the match. After losing the first set in which saw Tomljanovic take control early in the set, Putintseva used a combination of her patent drop shot and strong backhand to keep Tomljanovic running up and down the court.

No one broke serve in the second set until Putintseva did it at 5-5. The next two games featured good rallies with both games going back and forth before Putintseva was able to even the match.

“It was so close,” said Tomljanovic regarding the tightly battle second set. “I had so many chances to break in that second (set). It was a 40-love game at four all. She played well, but (the) little things made the difference.”

In the third set Putintseva was relentless with her backhand and never looked back after going up 5-2. Despite being frustrated with herself and with the crowd at times (she paused her serve during the third set to yell at the crowd “Shut up!”), she kept the pressure on Tomljanovic, which proved to be too much for the Aussie.

“It seems like a bad week but I played some good tennis and I can definitely take a lot of positives out of today. It’s the first tournament in the US Open swing so I’m not going to dwell too long (over the loss) and I don’t have time to anyway. So I want to get back out there next week (in Montreal) and take what I did and turn it into a positive,” Tomljanovic said.

In doubles action, the American duo of Coco Vandeweghe and Cathy McNally defeated the Russian/Ukrainian team of Valeria Savinykh and Dayana Yastremska as Yastemska retired due to a medical condition. McNally and Vandeweghe were leading 6-4 6-5 at the time. They earned a spot in the doubles semifinals.

Friday’s Singles Quarterfinals Lineup: Matches begin at 11:00am

Daria Kasatkina vs Magda Linette

Elise Mertens vs Yulia Putintseva

Ana Konjuh vs Shuai Zhang at 4:30pm

Daniel Collins/Sloane Stephens vs Elena Rybakina at 7:00pm

Zhang outlasts Keys in wild finish at Day 3 of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic

8-4-21–ZHANG SHUAI OF CHINA REACTS TO A POINT SHE WON IN HER STRAIGHT SETS VICTORY 7-5 7-6 OVER AMERICAN MADISON KEYS ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE MUBADALA SILICON VALLEY CLASSIC AT THE SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY TENNIS COMPLEX. Courtesy of Sports Radio Service.

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE–It’s not every day a match ends on a challenge call.

That’s how Zhang Shuai was able to claim a straight sets victory 7-5 7-6 (7-5) over third seeded Madison Keys in the featured evening match on Day 3 at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at the San Jose State University Tennis Complex.

With the second set tied at 6-6 and in a tiebreaker, Zhang was up 6-4 when Keys returned a shot down the left sideline that was called in. Zhang challenged and the replay showed the shot was indeed out and the call was overturned giving Zhang the tough fought victory.

Zhang’s return game was her key weapon against Keys, whose powerful serve (the highest was clocked at 112 mph) kept her in the match.

Zhang’s challenges also affected the outcome of the first set. Keys won two games in a row to tie it up at 5-5 and seize the momentum. However back-to-back errant calls by the same linesmen resulted in overturn calls that Zhang challenged and won. Her challenges allowed her to regain the momentum and finish off the first set.

“I think I was really really lucky,” said Zhang, who had won five of her six challenges during the match. “I felt those calls were in and maybe if I don’t challenge, then I lose the set 7-5 or 7-6.”

Keys was plagued by numerous unforced errors in the second set. The native of Rock Island, Illinois, who opened up the second set winning four of the first five games, thought she didn’t not play her best tennis on this evening.

“To lose kind of on a really close call sucks,” said Keyes after the match. “But like I said, I gave it everything (I had) and kept fighting till the end. That’s all you really can do when your tennis (game) isn’t a 100 percent there.”

Zhang is now 5-2 in her career against Keys.

Ana Konjuh continued her climb up through the tournament. She entered the tournament as a wild card and now has played her well in the quarterfinals on Friday after her straight sets 6-1 6-4 victory over ninth seeded American Alison Riske.

“I really love it here (in San Jose),” said Konjuh. “I have family here, my cousins (who live here), so it’s not really all about tennis. I get to have dinners with them, (I’m able) to get my mind off of things. So it’s really nice to be back here.”

The 23-year native of Dubrovnik, Croatia, used a powerful serve and a strong backhand to control of the first set as she only lost one game. The second set featured more a battle as Riske didn’t go down quietly as she held serve at 5-4.

In the end, Konjuh was too much to handle for Riske who played well at this year’s tournament.

“I think the key was to play on her forehand, her high balls today. So I had to include my forehand as well. She made some mistakes in the first set but overall I played the match pretty well,” Konjuh said.

In other singles action, Poland’s Magda Linette defeated sixth seeded Petra Martic of Croatia in straight sets 7-5 7-6 (7-5) in an entertaining opening match the started the day off.

Fourth seeded Daria Kasatkina of Russia defeated France’s Caroline Garcia in three sets 3-6 7-5 6-3. Kasatkina and Linette advanced to the quarterfinals on Friday.

Youth ruled in doubles action on Day 3. The American duo of Ashlyn Krueger and Robin Montgomery made history in their straight sets victory 6-3 6-2 over the Netherlands team of Pattinama Kerkhove and Rosalie Van Der Hoek. The teenage sensations became the youngest duo to ever play at the tournament. Their combined age of 34 years, 192 days (Krueger is 17 years old and Robinson is 16 years old) set the new mark that used to belong to the American duo of Mary Joe Fernandez and Marianne Werdel-Witmeyer that had a combined age of 34 years, 301 days. They are the youngest to compete at a tour event since 2020.

In other doubles action, the American Duo of Cathy McNally and Coco Vandeweghe defeated the team of Erin Routliffe of New Zealand and Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia in three sets 6-4 1-6 10-5.

Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Luisa Stefani of Brazil defeated American Kaitlyn Christian and Australian Arina Rodionova in three sets 7-5 3-6 12-10. Ellen Perez of Australia and Czech Republic’s Kveta Peschke defeated the team of Elixane Lechemia of France and American Ingrid Neel in straight sets 6-3 6-2.

All-American evening session highlights Day 2 at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic

8-3-21—SLOANE STEPHENS WINS A POINT DURING HER STRAIGHT SETS VICTORY OVER CATHY MCNALLY DURING THE EVENING MATCH AT THE MUBADALA SILICON VALLEY CLASSIC ON TUESDAY EVENING. Courtesy of Sports Radio Service

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE–Sloane Stephens was down in an early hole in the first set and then won the next eight games in a row as she cruised to victory over Catherine McNally in the featured evening match on Day 2 of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at the San Jose State Tennis Complex.

Stephens beat McNally in straight sets 6-4 6-2 in an all American showdown that was the crescendo of an eventful day two in the South Bay.

Stephens looked sluggish getting down 0-4 early to McNally to begin the match. However she rebounded well and got her game going by winning the next eight games in a row, six to win the first set and then the first two games of the second set before McNally regrouped and won the next two.

Stephens looked sharp in the final four games to wrap up the match and head into the second round on Thursday.

“Obviously at the beginning it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Stephens said regarding her slow start. “Once I got going and the rallies started going my way, I was able to execute my plan. Things got easier. I found a way to counter.”

Stephens was familiar with the Bay Area, even though it had been nine years since set stepped foot on a Bay Area tennis court. Originally from Fresno, Sloane’s stepfather, who’s from the area, would bring Sloane up to the area to play in tournaments when she was younger.

“We used to come up here a lot to play. I have really great memories of playing here. My favorite barbecue restaurant is here. I have a lot of family here and obviously the fans I haven’t seen in a long time. I’m just happy to be back,” Sloane said.

Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic came from behind to defeat American Amanda Anisimova in a three set-thriller 1-6 7-5 7-5. Down 5-4 in the second set, Tomljanovic broke serve to tie even the score. She went on to win the next two games to even the match at one set a piece.

Once again the 28 year old Croatian-Australian was down in the deciding 5-3 and managed to storm back winning the final four games to take the match and move on to the second round on Thursday.

“(Being down) in the hole 5-3 (in the third set) was big for me,” said Tomljanovic. “It was a tough game. She had some chances (to close out the match) and I knew that she was going to have serve it up there. And I have broken her a few times (during the match). I actually played a good return game. I definitely had the momentum after that.”

Earlier in the day Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva defeated Croatia’s Donna Vekic in straight sets 7-5 6-3. Putintseva played a strong game using her drop shot as a deadly weapon against Vekic, who could do nothing but admire the play from the 26-year born in Moscow, Russia.

Vekic had many unforced errors, including three double faults, and could not find a rhythm throughout the two sets.

“It was a tough match, she played well,” said the 25 year old Croatian. “I don’t think I played too bad. It’s just in the important points, I didn’t play too well and she took advantage of that.”

Vekic did not use fatigue as a possible factor for her loss as an excuse. She had just finished playing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for her home country and flew in from a long flight to San Jose shortly after her time at the Olympics was over.

“I would say I was ready to play today. I didn’t feel tired before the match, I was good to go. It’s just that’s how the schedule goes,” Vekic said.

In other singles action, Kristina Mladenovic of France defeated Korea’s Na-Lee Han in straight sets 6-4 6-4. American Claire Liu beat Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska in three sets 6-3 4-6 6-4 .

Danielle Collins defeated fellow American Shelby Rogers in straight sets 6-4 6-3 to close out the final match of the evening.

In doubles action, the team of Eri Hozumi (JPN) and Zhang Shuai (CHN) defeated the American team of Makena Jones and Elizabeth Scotty in three sets 6-1 3-6 (10-3). The team of American Emina Bektas and Great Britian’s Tara Moore defeated the other American duo of Peyton Stearns and Maribella Zamarripa in three sets 6-4 1-6 (12-10).

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

8-2-21—ZHANG SHUAI WINS A POINT DURING HIS MATCH AGAINST EMMA RADUCANU AT THE MUBADALA SILICON VALLEY CLASSIC ON MONDAY EVENING AT THE SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERISTY TENNIS COMPLEX. Courtesy of Sports Radio Service.

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).

Headline Sports podcast with Jessica Kwong: All eyes on LeBron to take the Lakers to the promise land; Broncos has no intention to sign Kaepernick; plus more

LeBron James leads the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat which started on Wednesday night in the bubble at Disney World in Bradenton Fl. Here he exchanges words with game officials during the NBA Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets Sep 26, 2020 (AP News photo)

On Headline Sports podcast with Jessica:

#1 Jessica taking a look at the NBA Finals game 1 was on Wednesday night in the bubble at Bradenton Fl at the Disney World bubble the odds makers have the Los Angeles Lakers favored in the series as they defeated the Miami Heat 116-98.

#2 Despite there’s no fans for the Finals is there any kind of advantage for the Miami Heat playing in Florida for the Finals.

#3 A sonic boom shook up the French Open on Monday, the boom startled fans, players and those working the Open thinking it was an explosion or fireworks nearby.

#4 The Denver Broncos have no intention of bringing former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick on board with the team according to Broncos head coach Vic Fangio Kaepernick’s name hasn’t come up in discussions and Fangio and team general manager John Elway look for someone else “who will be a the best fit.” Does this look like collusion is still in effect against Kaepernick?

#5 No one expected the San Francisco Giants to amount to anything close to a post season team and while the Giants just missed making the last and final eighth spot in the National League Wild Card race by one game they weren’t expected to compete for a playoff position during the 60 game regular season and so the Giants manager Gabe Kapler’s name has been floated for National League manager of the Year how do you see his chances to get the award?

Join Jessica every other Thursday for Headline Sports at http://www.sportsradioservice.com