Friday, August 3, 2018

Azarenka retires, Venus falls in San Jose quarters

Victoria Azarenka, playing on Monday night, retired from her San Jose quar-
terfinal against Danielle Collins today with an undisclosed "medical condition."
Photo by Mal Taam
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   At least Venus Williams played a full, competitive match.
   In a tournament marked by premature exits, Maria Sakkari of Greece ousted the third-seeded Williams 6-4, 7-6 (2) tonight in the quarterfinals of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State.
   Williams, 38, led 3-0 in the first set and 2-0 in the second set and had two set points with Sakkari serving at 4-5 in the second set. It wasn't enough as the Silicon Valley Classic lost its fourth and last former world No. 1.
   After reaching two Grand Slam finals and one major semifinal last year, Williams has gone 2-3 in Slams this year. She won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2000 and 2002 and reached six other finals there.
   It was Sakkari's first victory over Williams and the first time they have met in a non-Grand Slam tournament. Williams won 6-3, 6-4 in the third round of last year's U.S. Open and in three sets in the second round at Wimbledon in 2016.
   "She's my idol, but now I'm used to playing her," Sakkari, 23, said in an on-court interview. "That was the key."
   In Saturday's semifinals, fourth-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium will meet fifth-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania at 1 p.m. PDT, and Sakkari will play Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg, Fla., for the first time at 7 p.m. in a matchup of unseeded players. ESPN2 will televise both matches.
   Collins, a 24-year-old University of Virginia graduate and two-time NCAA singles champion, reached the semifinals in Miami as a qualifier in March.
   Mertens defeated Johanna Konta of Great Britain 7-6 (4), 6-3, and Buzarnescu beat Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia 6-1, 7-5. Konta won the 2016 Bank of the West Classic.
   Mertens, 22, is 3-0 against Buzarnescu, a 30-year-old left-hander who earned a Ph.D. in sports science in December 2016 while recovering from shoulder and knee injuries.
   Unseeded Victoria Azarenka, who won the 2010 Bank of the West Classic, retired from her quarterfinal against Collins with a back injury after leading 7-6 (4), 0-3.
   Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, has tumbled to No. 108 after having her first child in December 2016 and missing tournaments because of a custody battle.
   Sixth-seeded Serena Williams suffered the worst loss of her career on Tuesday night, falling 6-1, 6-0 to Konta in the first round.
   Top-seeded Garbine Muguruza pulled out of her second-round match against Azarenka on Wednesday night with a right arm injury.
   And second-seeded Madison Keys, last year's Bank of the West Classic champion and U.S. Open runner-up, withdrew from her second-round encounter against Tomljanovic on Thursday afternoon with a right wrist problem.
   The top four seeds received first-round byes.
   Withdrawals and retirements from the San Francisco Bay Area tournament, the longest-running women's event in the world in its 48th year, are common because players are cautious with the U.S. Open starting in late August.
   Here is Saturday's schedule in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.
   Here are the entry list, qualifying draw and Saturday's schedule for the $100,000 Nordic Naturals Men's Challenger in Aptos, a one-hour drive south of San Jose,

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