Saturday, August 3, 2019

Sakkari stages stunning comeback, ousts top seed in S.J.

Maria Sakkari, playing in the final of last year's inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley
Classic in San Jose, rallied from a big deficit and saved four match points to stun
top-seeded Elina Svitolina in Friday's quarterfinals. Photo by Mal Taam
   Maria Sakkari made a dramatic comeback on Friday to stun top-seeded Elina Svitolina in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.
   After trailing 6-1, 5-2, the seventh-seeded Sakkari saved four match points in a 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory in the quarterfinals of the second annual tournament at San Jose State.
   The 30th-ranked Sakkari, last year's runner-up in San Jose, also lost her serve in the first game of the third set but immediately broke back. She broke again to lead 4-2.
   "My coach came in, and he said, 'If you did it once in Rabat (where she beat Johanna Konta from a set and a break down in the final on clay in early May), you can do it again,' " Sakkari, 24, of Greece said on
   Svitolina, ranked seventh, last month became the first Ukrainian woman to reach the Wimbledon semifinals, her best performance in a Grand Slam tournament.
   Sakkari is scheduled to play unseeded Zheng Saisai of China today at 2 p.m. (Tennis Channel). Zheng, ranked No. 55, surprised fourth-seeded Amanda Anisimova, 17, of Aventura, Fla., 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 in 2 hours, 52 minutes on Friday night to reach the biggest semifinal of her career.
   Anisimova won her first professional title at 15 in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger and in June stunned defending champion Simona Halep to become the youngest American woman to reach the French Open semifinals since 14-year-old Jennifer Capriati in 1990.
   Sakkari and Zheng, 25, have split two matches, both in 2016.
   In the other semifinal, second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus will face fifth-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia at 7 p.m. (Tennis Channel).
   Sabalenka, 21, outlasted sixth-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 during the day session.
   Sabalenka is coached by former top-20 player Dmitry Tursunov, a Moscow native who moved alone to the San Francisco Bay Area at 12 to train and was based in the Sacramento area for most of his professional career.
   Suarez Navarro won the doubles title in the 2014 Bank of the West Classic at nearby Stanford with countrywoman Garbine Muguruza, who last week withdrew from the Silicon Valley Classic for the second consecutive year because of an injury.
   Vekic, 23, eliminated U.S. qualifier Kristie Ahn, a 27-year-old Stanford graduate, 7-5, 6-0. Ahn ousted third-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium in the second round for her first victory over a top-20 player.
   The 26th-ranked Vekic is 3-0 against the 10th-ranked Sabalenka, all on hardcourts. They last met in 2017.
   In the doubles quarterfinals, unseeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan beat third-seeded Lyudmyla Kichenok and Nadiia Kichenok, 27-year-old twins from Ukraine and last year's runners-up, 6-1, 6-4.
   Shibahara, a 21-year-old native of Rancho Palos Verdes in the Los Angeles area who starred at UCLA, won the Stockton (Calif.) doubles title with Haley Carter last October.
   After tonight's singles match, International Tennis Hall of Famers Andy Roddick and Michael Chang and former top-10 players James Blake and Mark Philippoussis will compete in a one-night, single-elimination tournament. Each match will be one set.
   Here are the San Jose singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

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