San Jose: Azarenka through, Venus out

Published by Reuters / Tennismash

Victoria Azarenka (Getty Images)
Victoria Azarenka begins her WTA San Jose campaign with a straight-sets win while Venus Williams falls to a resurgent Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka overpowered tournament qualifier Harmony Tan 6-2 6-4 to reach the second round of the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose on Tuesday.

The Belarusian converted seven of her 12 break point opportunities to advance to the second round.

Azarenka, who reached the quarterfinals in San Jose last year, improved her win-loss record to 20-14 in 2019. She was ranked outside the top 100 this time last year but is now up to No.38.

American Danielle Collins came out ahead in a marathon 6-4 5-7 6-2 battle with China’s Zhang Shuai on a sun-soaked afternoon on the campus of San Jose State University.

The rising 25-year-old University of Virginia product said her conditioning was the difference in her first-round match.

“I think I did a really great job making it physical,” Collins said. “I’ve been working a lot on my fitness the last couple weeks after Wimbledon. I’ve had a good couple weeks of training and I think it paid off today.”

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Collins will next face Zheng Saisai after the Chinese defeated Briton Heather Watson 6-3 6-1 in their first-round match.

Later on Tuesday, Venus Williams faded to a 6-7(4) 6-3 6-1 defeat to fellow wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Mattek-Sands, ranked No.674 as she makes her singles comeback following six months on the sidelines due to knee surgery, notched her first victory over Williams in five meetings, although they had not played a match in seven years.

“Venus is a legend, and it was awesome playing here. I love night matches. I really loved the atmosphere. I’m really enjoying it. It’s been a tough couple of years. I’ve had a few surgeries, I feel like I’ve had 12 surgeries, but I’m feeling really good,” said the American.

“The reason she’s such a champion is because she will come up with some good shots, so I wasn’t about to take my foot off the pedal there.”

Also progressing to the last 16 in San Jose was fifth seed Donna Vekic, who beat Misaki Doi of Japan in three sets and will next face Azarenka.

Madison Brengle dropped just three games against an out-of-sorts Andrea Petkovic.

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