WTA San Jose: Danielle Collins reaches the semis as Vika Azarenka retires

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WTA San Jose: Danielle Collins reaches the semis as Vika Azarenka retires

Danielle Collins moved into the semifinals of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic on Friday after Victoria Azarenka was forced to retire due to a knee injury, trailing 3-0 in the second set after she had won the first in a tight tiebreak 7-4.

Collins will meet Maria Sakkari who beat for the first time Venus Williams, playing her 12th quarterfinal at the tournament, 6-4 7-6(2). No.4 seed Elise Mertens and No.5 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu will fight for her maiden Premier-level final of their careers.

Buzarnescu defeated Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-1, 7-5, before Mertens completed a 7-6(4), 6-3 win over Johanna Konta. Collins won her 20th match on home soil this year to reach her second WTA semifinal of the year, following her final four run in Miami.

Currently ranked No.42 (by comparison, this time last year was No.154), she had overcome qualifier Lao and 19-year-old Lapko and maintained her unbeaten run against an opponent outside the Top 100 at WTA level (5-0). Contesting the Bay Area event for the first time in her career, Maria Sakkari continued to upset after she dismissed McHale here on Monday to snap a four-match losing streak and saw off Babos in under an hour to reach her fifth tour-level career quarter-final.

After a fierce performance the Greek, who hasn't dropped a set yet, reached her third WTA semifinal, having made it that far at 2017 Wuhan and 2018 Istanbul (both on hard courts) Serena slayer Johanna Konta had opened the tournament with a bang on Tuesday when she shocked 23-times grand slam champion Serena Williams 6-1 6-0, the worst loss of the American great’s career.

2016 champion was unable to recreate the magic, however, instead squandering a 5-2 lead in the opening set against Mertens, before bowing out meekly. Making her debut appearance at the Bay Area event, Mertens plays at a career-high ranking of No.15, first posted week after Roland Garros.

Seeded No.4 this week – her highest seeding at a WTA Premier-level tournament (previous best was No.7 at 2018 Birmingham), defeated No.251 Kratzer in the second round on Wednesday for the loss of only two games and completed against the first Brit woman to win the tournament since Barker in 1977 her 34th win of 2018: only Kerber (39), Kvitova (38) and Halep (37) own more wins this season (none of which are playing an event this week).

The Belgian avenged her loss in Miami earlier this year, her only defeat suffered at WTA level against British women, and continued her bid for her fourth title of the year. She will face Buzarnescu, whom she defeated in Hobart to begin the season becoming the first player ever to win the title in tournament's history for a second time.

The Romanian saved two match points to win her previous meeting against Tomljanovic at 2017 Linz. But this time her duty, in her seventh quarterfinal of the season, was definitely easier. Contesting a Bay Area event for the first time in her career, Buzarnescu completed her 33rd tour-level main draw win this season, the equal fifth-most in 2018.

Having reached 400 victories in her career (including ITF Circuit) beating Anisimova earlier this week, she clinched her sixth semifinal of the campaign after she had two
runner-up finish in Hobart and Prague, and suffered further semifinals loss in Strasbourg, Birmingham and Bucharest.

In Washington, the rain came again to disrupt the day and make the schedule even more hectic tomorrow. Just a single women's quarter-final was completed. Andrea Petkovic knocked off No.6 seed Belinda Bencic, playing her first WTA semifinal of the year, 6-3.

2-6, 7-6(8). The former World No.9, who reached her first quarterfinal and semifinal at tour level since Washington 2017, led 4-2 in the decider and 5-2 in the deciding tiebreak but needed to save three match points. Bencic, who committed her 11th double fault on the first of those chances, got increasingly frustrated and lost her third straigh clash to a German opponent.

Petkovic could finally dance again to celebrate her 25th WTA career semifinal. before she converted her first to seal her spot in the final four of the International-level event for the second straight year.