SAN JOSÉ, CA (August 02, 2019) -- Seventh seed Maria Sakkari dug herself out of a deep hole against the reigning WTA Finals champion to book a return trip to the semifinals at the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic. The finalist here last year fought back from a set and two breaks down to beat top-seeded Elina Svitolina 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-3.
The No. 20-ranked player, who claimed her maiden WTA title in Rabat in May, found herself in trouble against World No. 7 Svitolina early . The Ukrainian held a 6-1, 5-2, lead and was serving for the match -- but Sakkari wasn't giving way just yet. She reeled off four straight games and took the second set in a tiebreak, 7-3, to force the decider. Just as she stormed back in the 2018 semifinals against Danielle Collins, Sakkari gritted out another incredible come-from-behind victory on Stadium Court.
"Maybe it's something about this place," Sakkari explained when asked about her comeback wins. "I really feel comfortable being on the center court here -- really feeling like home, I would say, very familiar. It feels good to play and compete out there."
It isn't a wonder why she feels at home on Stadium Court in San José. Sakkari, whose father hails from Sparta in Greece, pulled off both remarkable comebacks on the campus of San José State University -- whose mascot just happens to be a Spartan.
"I don't know where I found this power," Sakkari said after her win. "Probably have it deep inside me. I'm a Spartan, so we don't forget that."
The real-life Spartan will face another tough test in surprise semifinalist Zheng Saisai, who weathered No. 4 seed Amanda Anisimova for a 5-7, 7-5, 6-4, win. The tight three-setter was an emotional roller coaster for the 17-year-old American, who was often visibly upset during the match. Though she regained her composure, Anisimova was unable to fend off the strong challenge stemming from the variety in Zheng's game.
""It was such a battle today," Zheng said following her upset, which propelled her into her first WTA Premier-level singles semifinals. "You never know until the end who's going to win. The third set in the end, a few points decided who was the winner. I'm really happy I got through this," Zheng said on-court after the match."
On the other half of the draw, No. 5 seed Donna Vekic ended the run of qualifier and Stanford alum Kristie Ahn. Ahn found herself up a break in the opening frame against the World No. 26 player, but Vekic put together a run of tennis magic that saw her claim ten consecutive games to win 7-5, 6-0.
"It's easy to get carried away," Vekic said about taking that many games in a row. "I had to stay really focused, not take anything for granted and really take it one point at a time and not really think about the score."
Vekic will go up against No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, who outplayed the Spanish veteran Carla Suarez Navarro in a comeback of her own, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. In a match where neither player found a rhythm on her own serve, Sabalenka managed to overpower the No. 6 seed in crucial points in the second and third.
"After the first set, I didn't give up," the 21-year-old Belorussian said on court after the win. "The service game today was much worse than yesterday and hopefully tomorrow it will be better... overall, it was a great match, great fight. I'm so happy to play here."
Now entering its 49th year, the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic is a weeklong WTA Premier event bringing the worlds of tennis and technology together in a festival of sports and entertainment. Highlighting the best the region has to offer, the tournament showcases locally sourced cuisine, fine wine and cheese selections, interactive fan exhibitions, premier hospitality options, and of course, incredible tennis action.
Featuring a 28-player singles draw as well as a 16-team doubles draw the tournament boasts $876,183 in prize money and serves as the opening women's event of the US Open Series.
With several different ticket options available, the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic has something for everyone. To purchase tickets go to www.MubadalaSVC.com or call 1-866-982-8497.
ABOUT THE MUBADALA SILICON VALLEY CLASSIC: The Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic is the longest-running women-only professional tennis tournament in the world and is the first women's stop of the US Open Series. Owned and operated by IMG, the WTA Premier event features a 28-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles draw with total prize money of $876,183.
ABOUT MUBADALA: Mubadala Investment Company actively manages a worldwide portfolio supporting the vision of a globally integrated and diversified economy, through sustainable returns to its shareholder, the Government of Abu Dhabi. In March 2018, Abu Dhabi Investment Council (ADIC) joined the Group. Mubadala's US $225 billion portfolio spans five continents with interests in aerospace, ICT, semiconductors, metals and mining, renewable energy, oil and gas, petrochemicals, utilities, healthcare, real estate, defense services, pharmaceuticals and medical technology, agribusiness and a global portfolio of financial holdings. Mubadala is a trusted partner, an engaged shareholder and a responsible global company that is committed to ethics and world-class standards. For more information about Mubadala, please visit: www.mubadala.com.
ABOUT THE US OPEN SERIES: Now in its 16th season, the world's best players on the WTA and ATP Tour are coming together for the US Open Series. Linking seven summer WTA and ATP Tour tournaments to the US Open, the US Open Series serves as a true "regular season" of hard court tennis. Featuring a cohesive schedule, the Series centralizes the way tennis is viewed in North America, across multiple television and digital platforms. Fans will see today's top champions go head-to-head with tomorrow's emerging stars, as storylines develop throughout the summer season. Each tournament also engages its local community with a variety of outreach initiatives, including grass-roots youth tennis clinics and activities.
ABOUT IMG: IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion, events and media, operating in more than 30 countries. The company manages some of the world's greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages hundreds of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually; and is a leading independent producer and distributor of sports and entertainment media. IMG also specializes in sports training and league development, as well as marketing, media and licensing for brands, sports organizations and collegiate institutions. IMG is part of the Endeavor (formerly WME | IMG) network.
ABOUT SAN JOSÉ STATE UNIVERSITY: The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San José State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study -- offered through its eight colleges. With more than 33,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San José State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce. The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.