SAN JOSÉ, CA (August 03, 2019) -- The final of the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic is set as No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka and unseeded Zheng Saisai will clash on Sunday with a WTA Premier title on the line. Sabalenka is seeking her fourth title overall and second on the year while Zheng will be playing for her maiden WTA singles trophy.
Zheng, 25 years old out of China, advanced to her first WTA Premier-level final with a convincing straight-sets win over No. 7 seed and 2018 finalist Maria Sakkari, 7-6(5), 6-2. After edging out a tight opening frame in a tiebreak, Zheng's relentless variety continued to frustrate her 23-year-old Greek opponent in the second.
"So, I played her last time, Sakkari, I think I remember last time she didn't like the no pace, high backhand," Zheng said of her approach to the match. "Because her stroke, it looked like she couldn't have the speed on that shot. So I add this one to my tactics and it looks like it worked."
Sakkari admitted after the loss that her opponent's "tricky" style of play gave her fits, just as it had Amanda Anisimova in the quarterfinals.
"Slice, lobs, drop shots," she explained. "No pace, her ball had no pace. We're used to bang, bang, bang. So it's quite tough, and you have to be ready to play. I didn't know she was going to play like that."
Zheng, who claimed the doubles title here in 2015, will have the opportunity on Sunday to join a list of singles and doubles champions at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic that includes the likes of Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navrátilová, and Venus and Serena Williams. She was asked about her prospects in the final, and maintained that she was just excited to be able to play.
"I'm ready for the fight... and the result doesn't matter for me, I'm just going to enjoy it."
Zheng's enjoyment may be limited when she runs into her opponent in the final, Sabalenka, who found her mettle against No. 5 seed Donna Vekic, dispatching her 6-4, 6-3. The 21-year-old Belorussian, who had been struggling with holding serve throughout the tournament, found a rhythm from the service line in the semifinal that allowed her to control points and overpower her Croatian opponent.
"I had a bad period with my serving game," the World No. 10 player admitted after her match. "But right now I'm feeling better. I can see that I'm getting consistent on the court."
Sabalenka's consistency in late 2018 saw her capture two titles in as many months, including a Premier 5 championship in Wuhan, and rise into the top-10. But with the exception of winning in Shenzhen to begin the year, 2019 has been a series of disappointments for the young talent, who fell in earlier rounds at each successive major, including a first round loss at Wimbledon. She maintains that she has been able to shrug this slump off.
"I'm done with expectations," she continued. "Every match, and I'm just going there and trying to fight for each point, no matter what. Don't think about anything else. Just this ball, this point, this game, and this match."
No matter her expectations, Sabalenka will run into a tough player tomorrow in Zheng, who has already taken out three seeded players in the draw during her march to the final.
"I'm just looking forward to the final," she said. "Hopefully, I can show the same level as today. Saisai is a great player, and it's going to be a tough match. I'm looking forward to [it]."
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.