By Jess Knaster
The first Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic match ever played under the lights at the new Stadium Court in San Jose was well worth the price of admission. In a three set, see-saw battle, Victoria Azarenka outlasted Kateryna Bondarenko 6-3, 7-6 (6), 7-5, earning her a date in the second round against the tournament’s top seed Garbiñe Muguruza Wednesday night. The former world #1 jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set thanks to two consecutive service breaks and seemed to be well on her way to a first set win, but a break by Bondarenko at 4-1 and a hold put pressure on Azarenka, who responded with two straight games, breaking serve to capture the opening set.
In the second set, it was Bondarenko who won four straight games en route to a large set lead, breaking Azarenka twice in a row to lead 5-2. Azarenka responded in kind, forcing Bondarenko to stave off a pair of match points at 5-6 to take the second set to a tie breaker. In the tiebreak, Bondarenko fought off another match point en route to a 9-7 win, sending the match to a third and final set.
With the set tied at 5, Azarenka twice battled back to deuce, eventually breaking Bondarenko to go up 6-5. With her fate and the serve in her hands, Azarenka was able to put the match away and avoid an early exit.
During the day session, Danielle Collins and Sofia Kenin, two of the ten Americans in the field, both advanced. Collins, the 24 year-old St. Petersburg, FL native, defeated Danielle Lao 7-6 (2), 6-3, and will face Shuai Zheng in Round 2. Kenin won in straight sets over Veronica Cepede Royg 6-4, 6-4, and now awaits the winner of the Serena Williams/Johanna Konta match to be played Tuesday evening. Ajla Tomljanovic also advanced Monday with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Georgina Garcia Perez, and Maria Sakkari defeated Christina McHale 6-2, 6-2.
The doubles draw also began on Monday, with the pairs of Johanna Konta/Shuai Zhang and the second seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu/Heather Watson both winners in their first round matches. Konta/Shuai beat Jacqueline Cako/Nicola Geuer 6-3, 6-2, while Buzarnescu/Watson were victorious over the team of Sybille Gauvain/Tamara Culibrk, a duo from San José State University