Vekic Vanquishes Victoria Azarenka At Night, Ahn And Anisimova Move On During Day In San Jose
By Thomas Cluck
It was a bright and sunny day four at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic on Thursday in San Jose, and it wasn’t just fun for the dogs being walked on court during Thursday’s day session by players in support of the Silicon Valley Humane Society adoptions on-site at the tournament. Throughout a high-quality, intriguing schedule, the variety, contrasts, and depth of the WTA showed with four superb second round matches on tap on the campus of San Jose State University.
The headliner was the night session showdown on Stadium between fifth-seeded Croatian Donna Vekic and two-time Australian Open champion and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and it was the 23 year-old Vekic who survived the peaks and valleys in Azarenka’s game tonight in Silicon Valley, defeating her just 30 year-old opponent 6-4, 6-3 under the Northern California sunset.
Despite a fast 4-1 start from Azarenka, a former champion just up the road in the Bay Area at Stanford, Vekic refused to go away and hung in before the errors and inconsistency that have plagued the Belarusian set in and allowed Vekic to reel off five straight games for the opening set. A similar story emerged in the second set for Azarenka, a concerning pattern given the dramatic fold against eventual champion Simona Halep last month at Wimbledon from 3-0 up before being beaten up by the Romanian emphatically.
There were no slow starts or dips for 27-year-old American and Stanford alum Kristie Ahn, keeping her foot on the pedal at all times in a dominant takedown of third seed Elise Mertens of Belgium, starting her tournament campaign after receiving a first-round bye, to win 6-3, 6-3 for the biggest win of her career to reach the quarterfinals here for the first time, where she will headline Friday’s day session.
American teen Amanda Anisimova was ruthless in the afternoon against her countrywoman Madison Brengle, dominating the entire 54-minute match 6-2, 6-2. Anisimova was announced to play her quarterfinal in Friday’s night session, her first here this tournament.
“I’m really happy to be transitioning back to hardcourts, because it’s one of my favorite surfaces,” said Anisimova, a New Jersey native like her fellow quarterfinalist Ahn. “I’m just going to enjoy this week. It was a little bit windy, but I got used to it, and I was just trying to find my game throughout the match.”
While the Americans Anisimova and Ahn enjoyed big days on Thursday, one American in Danielle Collins struggled mightily, getting crushed by China’s Zheng Saisai first on Stadium today.
Friday’s schedule in San Jose will see the entire quarterfinal field face off, with Spanish veteran Carla Suarez Navarro and big-hitting Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, the number two seed, set for first on Stadium tomorrow. Top seed Elina Svitolina, fresh off a career-best Grand Slam run to the semifinals of Wimbledon last month, and defending finalist Maria Sakkari follow them before Ahn and Vekic close the day session. Friday’s night session at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic sees Anisimova and Zheng do battle for the final last four spot in Saturday’s semifinals in San Jose.