Wta San Jose: Johanna Konta outmuscles Serena Williams


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Wta San Jose: Johanna Konta outmuscles Serena Williams

In a clash of former champions, Johanna Konta annihilated Serena Williams 6-1 6-0. Konta had 17 winners to 9 and just 9 winners to Serena Williams's 25. The 23-time Slam champion held in the first game of the match, then the Brit managed to win 12 games in a row against a static, helpless Williams.

The American had never lost before the quarter-finals in the longest-running women-only tennis tournament in the world. Konta, who won her first WTA title in her only previous appearance in Stanford, where the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic was played until last year, constantly and precisely attacked Serena's backhand.

She easily outplayed the red-dressed Williams, who suffered her first "bagel" since the 2014 WTA Finals, when she lost 62 60 in the round robin stage to Simona Halep. Konta will now meet Sofia Kenin for the first time.

She completed a stunning day for Brit fans as Heather Watson beat Claire Liu in three sets and completed her 100th career tour victory. No.8 seed Timea Babos rallied from an early break to defeat close friend and doubles partner Kristina Mladenovic 6-4, 6-2.

Contesting the Bay Area event for the first time in her career, having never previously played the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic’s predecessor in Stanford, the lone Hungarian in the main draw completed her 15th hardcourt win of the season, including the title-run in Taipei-City and the runner-up showing in Monterrey, in her eighth WTA career final.

Babos tied the head to head against No.57 Mladenovic after she beat her for the third straight time (she had won the last two previous meetings at 2016 Moscow and 2017 New Haven). While neither will participate in doubles competition at San Jose, Babos and Mladenovic have played in nine tournaments this season, posting a 24-7 record, and won two titles (Australian Open and Birmingham) and currently sit at No.2 in the Porsche Race to Singapore.

Babos, the 39th WTA doubles No.1, met her close friend for the first time on ITF Circuit back in 2011. She remained calm as Mladenovic gained a 4-2 lead in the first set. But the world No.57 lost eight of the next nine games, entrapped in a downbound spiral of disappointment and self-doubt.

Babos hit 21 winners to 13 and 23 unforced errors to Mladenovic's 32 and cruised towards the second set to meet for the first time Maria Sakkari in the second round. Mihaela Buzarnescu was often caught crying during the changeovers but managed to defeat Sachia Vickery 6-3 4-6 6-2 to clinch the 31st win of the season, the tenth on clay.
In a see-saw contest, Buzarnescu claimed the only hold of the first set among eight breaks of serve.

Making her debut in the tournament's history, Buzarnescu struggled to find consistency from the back in the second set. The No.5 seed, who contested two ITF events in lead up to US Open in parallel weeks in 2017, ranked No.142, needed to dig deep to complete the fourth win in six matches against American opponents in 2018 at Tour-level.

Vickery, working since mid 2017 with a full-time coach, Matt Evans, for the first time in her career, showed her hunger and burning desire to win that nurtured her entire career. Strategic improvements emerged while Buzarnescu became increasingly nervous, ambitious, impatient.

The Romanian is used to be hard on herself, "especially whenever I'm alone in the tournaments" she said at Wimbledon. "Sometimes I feel like I want to leave and go home or go somewhere because it's really tough" she added.

As she got broken in her last three service games of the second set, that feeling came out as an epiphany, as a curse. But the 2014 quarter-finalist Vickery, who beat Vondrousova in her lone previous clash this year against a lefty opponent, surrendered a crucial break to 3-1, the turning point that soon produced her fifth defeat in six deciders played at WTA-level.

Vera Lapko completed the second-best win of her career. The Belarusian, contesting San Jose on a career-high ranking of No.69, upset world No.32 and No.7 seed Zhang Shuai, who enjoyed a quarterfinal run at Nanchang last week, 7-6 6-0.

Ranked No.241 this time last year, Lapko has risen more than 170 places since then. One of two Belarusian in the draw, projected to eventually meet compatriot Vika Azarenka or Garbine Muguruza in the last 8, Lapko had defeated No.28 Kontaveit earlier this year at Lugano.

She dominated the proceedings in the second set to seal the eighth WTA career main draw win and establish a second-round clash against Danielle Collins.

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