Second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and unseeded Zheng Saisai of China won their semifinal matches in straight sets and are now set to face each other in the $876,183 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic final on Sunday.
Last year, then-36th-ranked Sabalenka lost in the first round of qualifying in San Jose, but after that her steep rise started and now she’s come full circle by reaching the final of the Premier-level event as a player firmly grounded in the Top 10. The 21-year-old is now through to her second final of the year, having won the Shenzhen Open in January.
Facing fifth seed Donna Vekic in Saturday’s semifinals, Sabalenka won five games in a row from 4-4 in the first set to take charge of the match and stop the constant exchange of breaks that opened the encounter. Vekic made five double faults and recorded no aces, while eight double faults didn’t dent Sabalenka’s game that much, as she counterbalanced them by five aces en route to a 6-4 6-3 victory.
The world No.55 Zheng freed her mind from expectations and hopes of good results, which resulted in one of her best career weeks which saw her snap a five-match losing streak and reach her second WTA final, first at a Premier-level tournament. After taking out a pair of seeded American players, Danielle Collins and Amanda Anisimova, Zheng found her way past Greek seventh seed Maria Sakkari in straight sets, 7-6(5) 6-2.
The 25-year-old Zheng came to San Jose late, had just one day of practice and that turned out to be a good strategy for the Chinese:
Before, during Wimbledon and grass season, and even on the clay, I was having a lot of expectations. Like, ‘Hopefully I can play good.’ And the results there, I didn’t play good at all. I was just trying to tell myself, just enjoy being who I am on court. Just play my game, it doesn’t matter. And it turns out, good results.
The Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic women’s singles final will be contested on Sunday, not before 4 p.m. local time. It will be the second career meeting between Sabalenka and Zheng. The Chinese leads their H2H 1-0, having won their encounter on the hardcourts of Zhuhai 2017.