Vika Azarenka easily secured multiple wins at a tournament for the second time this season as she dispatched lucky loser Anna Blinkova 6-1 6-0. British No.1 Johanna Konta continued her march through the draw at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.
The Brit, who inflicted heaviest career defeat on Serena Williams’ in opening round, dismissed American teenager Sofia Kenin, fresh from title run on ITF Circuit, 6-1 6-4 to move to the quarterfinals. "I kind of approached today as a separate challenge," WTA quoted Konta as saying after the match.
"I just played the challenge of the day and the opponent that I had, and really just tried to do the best that I can with that." The Brit made one appearance at tournament’s predecessor in Stanford in 2016, where she went on to lift her debut WTA title against her idol Venus Williams.
As a result, she became the first British woman to reach final of a Premier event since WTA Roadmap was introduced in 2009, and first British woman to
win the tournament since Barker in 1977 (when it was held in San Francisco).
The first British woman to defeat Serena hit 20 winners to 13 unforced errors to avoid her fifth defeat to players ranked lower than No.68 Kenin this season, having previously lost to No.123 Pera (Australian Open), No.219 Stollar (Charleston), No.97 Pera (Madrid) and No.97 Putintseva (Roland Garros).
Kenin, playing for the first time against a British opponent, impressed with her defensive abilities, but was undone by 19 unforced errors. Konta will meet Elise Mertens who beat 6-2 6-0 Ashleigh Kratzer, one of four players outside Top 100 to reach second round, playing Top 50 opponent for the first time.
Making her debut appearance at the Bay Area event, having never previously contested the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in Stanford, the Belgian collected her 33rd win of the season, the fourth most this year behind Kerber (39), Kvitova (38) and Halep (37).
Seeded No.4 this week, her highest seeding at a Premier-level tournament (previously No.7 at 2018 Birmingham), Mertens ranks fifth on tour for both percentage of return points won (47.8%) and return games won (44.8%) this season.
Danielle Collins extended her perfect 5-0 record against teenagers in 2018. The former NCAA singles champion claimed the fifth WTA quarter-final of the season, and in her whole career, as she beat 6-1 3-6 6-1 Vera Lapko, bidding to reach her third career quarterfinal.
Twelve months ago, both players were ranked well outside Top 100, but their journeys took different and unexpected destinations. Collins, one of six American players in the second round, currently ranked No.42, overcame qualifier Lao in the first round and won 10 of 13 close games to clinch her15th main draw win of her career, all coming in 2018.
The Belarusian reached the second round upsetting No.32 Zhang to complete her third career win over a Top 50 player after beating No.22 Gavrilova at 2017 Moscow and No.28 Kontaveit at 2018 Lugano. In both tournaments, she reached at least the quarter-finals but she looked too inconsistent in return and forced to play defensively in the first and third set to make it three out of three.
Owning a 4-2 record against US players in 2018, most recently beating
McHale at Wimbledon, she was more aggressive with her returns and stuck to the baseline in the second set and manage to break back at 1-2 in the third against a frustrated Collins.
But Lapko never managed to hold in the decider and Collins could celebrate her 15th win in 16 three-setters this season at all level. Top seed Garbiñe Muguruza, a losing semifinalist last year in Stanford, was forced to withdraw citing a right arm injury.
"I’ve been feeling some pain in my right arm for a couple of days and realized I am not ready to play the match, so hopefully I can recover for the next tournaments," Muguruza said in a statement. "The facilities in San Jose are very nice, especially the courts.
This is a tournament I always play at the start of the US Open Series so I hope to come back and see all my fans next year." So, Vika Azarenka faced lucky loser Anna Blinkova of Russia, bidding to clinch her maiden WTA quarter-final.
The former World No.1 had made four previous appearance at tournament’s predecessor in Stanford, lifting the title there in 2010 (defeating Sharapova in the final). Making her first appearance at the Bay Area event after an absence of four years, falling to Venus Williams in the second round in 2014, Azarenka made her eturns to hard court having won six of eight matches on the surface earlier this season, including a semifinal run in Miami.