It was a blistering day on the courts of San Jose at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic. Many in the stands could be seen with paper fans as they toughened it out watching in the sun. The struggle was more on the players though.
Danielle Collins and Zhang Shuai among others were feeling the heat. But having heavy competition made matters a bit pushed despite the result of Collins coming up with the three-set win over Shuai at 6-4, 5-7, 6-2. "She made me work for every point...I enjoyed the battle...hot day," Collins had said as she talked briefly on court of her performance with Shuai.
The first set the former University of Virginia student and tennis player sweated out the set point by point. It was close and she was never up more than a break. But Collins played nearly textbook tennis and won on basic, but smart tennis strategies.
She'd open up the court and get a few winners there. If the opportunity came she'd go down the line cleanly and even push out a volley or two. Shuai was a good rally player driving Collins to remain focused or otherwise lose points.
She often made her create unforced errors, causing Collins to get frustrated and bang her racket onto the court. The possibility of a violation was looming close but never pushed on an already agitated Collins who'd win the opening set 6-4.
It wasn't like she didn't have aggravation throughout the year. Despite getting into the semis of the Australian Open and winning over top players as Caroline Garcia, Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova. The rest of the season was opening and second-round losses at many tournaments as Madrid, Rome and Miami.
Zhang Shuai decided to send her game to new gear and came up with answers to most rallies and shots in the second set. Collins became infuriated and tried her best to counteract the now aggressive Shuai. It was to no avail because she won 7-5 and pushed her newfound energies into the deciding set.
They kept up with one another until Collins broke free with a 4-2 lead. The match was in her hands and through unforced error gifts from Zhang, Collins won the round. It was an exhausting match but Collins explains saying "I did a great job making it physical...I had a good couple of weeks and I think it paid off today..."