World no. 55 Saisai Zheng came to the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose with the five-match losing streak, changing all that this week to go all the way and lift the first WTA title at the age of 25. In the final, the Chinese toppled the 2nd seed and world no.
10 Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 7-6 in an hour and 45 minutes, delivering the most significant victory in terms of ranking since 2017 and becoming the first player from her country with the singles title at this prestigious event that has been on since 1972.
Serving at 72%, Zheng saved four out of seven break points and grabbed half of the return points for five breaks of serve from as many opportunities, keeping the pressure on Aryna with 15 winners and 14 unforced errors, something the Belarusian couldn't match after spraying 34 mistakes.
Sabalenka kicked off the match with a double fault that cost her the serve, pulling the break back in the next game and moving 2-1 in front after forcing an error from Saisai in game three. The Chinese landed a forehand winner at 2-2 to secure another break, saving one break chance in game eight and closing the opener with another break for a 6-3 after 40 minutes following a forced error from Aryna.
They traded four breaks in the first six games of set number two to stay neck and neck, serving well in the second part of the set to reach the tie break where Sabalenka had no room for errors. Zheng won the opening point of the breaker with a backhand down the line winner, moving 2-0 up after a backhand mistake from the Belarusian and forging a 4-1 advantage with a backhand crosscourt winner.
Two more winners sent Saisai 6-3 in front, sealing the deal in the tenth point when Aryna hit a double fault to start the celebration of the very first title on the WTA Tour.