Aryna Sabalenka reached the WTA Silicon Valley Classic final after easing past Donna Vekic on Saturday.

Belarusian Sabalenka – the second seed – was too good for Vekic, winning the semi-final 6-4 6-3 in San Jose.

Sabalenka and fifth seed Vekic traded breaks in the opening set but the former broke in the 10th game to close it out on her opponent's serve.

Vekic fended off a match point at 5-3 in the second set but it only delayed the inevitable as Sabalenka served it out in the next game.

Sabalenka – a three-time winner on the WTA Tour – will face Zheng Saisai in Sunday's decider.

Zheng stunned seventh seed and last year's runner-up Maria Sakkari 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 to advance to the final of the WTA Premier event.

After upstaging seeds Danielle Collins and Amanda Anisimova en route to the semis, Zheng continued her fine run as she eyes her maiden WTA crown.

Elina Svitolina was stunned by a Maria Sakkari comeback in the Silicon Valley Classic quarter-finals, while Aryna Sabalenka moved through on Friday.

Sakkari upset top seed Svitolina 1-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 at the WTA Premier event, saving four match points in San Jose.

The Greek seventh seed was trailing 5-2 in the second set before rallying for an incredible victory.

Sakkari will next face Zheng Saisai, who upset 17-year-old fourth seed Amanda Anisimova 5-7 7-5 6-4.

Zheng converted nine of 11 break points, including three from three in the final set, to battle through in two hours, 52 minutes.

Sabalenka and Donna Vekic, the second and fifth seeds respectively, moved into a semi-final clash.

While Vekic was too strong for qualifier Kristie Ahn 7-5 6-0, Sabalenka edged sixth seed Carla Suarez Navarro 3-6 6-2 6-4.

Karolina Pliskova had no need to repeat her histrionics from a year ago as she defeated Maria Sakkari to set up an Internazionali d'Italia final against Johanna Konta, who defeated the in-form Kiki Bertens.

It was at the same tournament in Rome in 2018 that the usually placid Pliskova lost her cool in a round-two match with Sakkari over a disputed line call, leading to the Czech smashing her racket against the umpire's chair and ultimately receiving a fine.

But Pliskova was all smiles after Saturday's semi-final against her Greek opponent as the fourth seed ran out a 6-4 6-4 victor to reach Sunday's showpiece.

Sakkari claimed the first break to take a 2-1 lead that she consolidated, only for Pliskova to hit back after a short break for rain.

Pliskova made it four games in a row by breaking again to take the first set and both players had to save break points early in the second.

It looked as though the set may be headed for a breaker until Sakkari once again failed to hold at 5-4 down, with Pliskova clinically breaking to love.

Bertens was heavy favourite against Konta having won eight straight matches on clay, including winning the title in Madrid.

Konta scored a first top-five win in over two years, though, recording a 5-7 7-5 6-2 triumph in the Italian capital.

The Briton had the chance to serve out for the first set but lost three straight games to cede the advantage.

But a crucial break at 5-5 in the second set the tone for a final-set cruise and Konta is now into her biggest final since winning the Miami Open in 2017.

Naomi Osaka's withdrawal preceded a fine birthday present for Johanna Konta, while there were three-set quarter-final wins for Karolina Pliskova and Maria Sakkari at the Internazionali d'Italia.

Top seed Osaka was forced to pull out in Rome ahead of her last-eight clash with Kiki Bertens due to a hand injury, opening up the draw for the remaining players.

Konta celebrated turning 28 in style by winning a three-setter with Marketa Vondrousova, while Pliskova also lasted the distance against Victoria Azarenka to seal a landmark win.

And Sakkari roared back against Kristina Mladenovic to maintain her hopes of triumphing at the WTA Premier event.

 

HAPPY BIRTH-CLAY, JO…

Konta is enjoying a career resurgence. The Briton reached a first final in almost 12 months in Rabat a fortnight ago, while she is now in her biggest semi since Wimbledon in 2017.

It was a back-and-forth match against Vondrousova, but ultimately Konta ran out a 6-3 3-6 6-1 victor.

Before this year, Konta had never managed to win three main-draw matches on clay in a given season but she now faces Bertens for a place in the final.

500 NOT OUT FOR PLISKOVA

In a battle between two former world number ones, Pliskova ousted Azarenka 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-2 for her 500th career victory.

Pliskova, this season's leader in three-set wins, was beaten by the same opponent in Stuttgart last month but has now levelled their head-to-head meetings at 4-4.

"I think the last couple years I know I'm playing a lot of three-setters," said Pliskova. 

"I'm not panicking if I lose first set or even the second. I'm just there. I keep fighting. I feel quite confident coming to the third set, because I know I won quite a lot in last couple of years."

Mladenovic seemed destined for the semis after taking the first set against Sakkari, but the Greek roared back to triumph 5-7 6-3 6-0.

A maiden clay-court title dramatically slipped from Johanna Konta's grasp as Maria Sakkari came from a set and a break down to claim her first WTA Tour crown with a 2-6 6-4 6-1 win in the Rabat Open final.

Sakkari, who eliminated top seed and defending champion Elise Mertens on her way to the final, looked set to suffer defeat when she lost the opening set and then dropped serve in the fifth game of the second.

However, Konta could not capitalise on her dominant position and her opponent levelled the contest before surging to victory in the decider.

Sakkari will break into the world's top 50 when the new rankings are released on Monday, while Konta can at least take heart from reaching her first final in 11 months.

 

Anastasija Sevastova inflicted a final-set bagel on fellow Latvian Jelena Ostapenko to move into the second round of the Stuttgart Open, while Lara Arruabarrena upset Carla Suarez Navarro in the Istanbul Cup.

Seventh seed Sevastova came through a topsy-turvy encounter 6-2 4-6 6-0 to move into the second round on Tuesday.

Sevastova broke her compatriot seven times to advance and will face Laura Siegemund in the last 16.

"I don't think it was a nice feeling for us both," world number 13 Sevastova said of facing the 2017 French Open champion. "At the end of the day, you just concentrate on yourself.

"It's Stuttgart, it's the first match, you play like it's any other match - you try. It's hard, but that's the thing that I did."

Sixth seed Kiki Bertens was a 7-5 6-2 winner over Anna-Lena Friedsam, while Daria Kasatkina defeated Elise Mertens 7-6 (10-8) 7-5 on a day that saw Simona Halep withdraw due to a hip injury.

Andrea Petkovic and Greet Minnen also avoided early exits on day two of the tournament. 

Top seed Suarez Navarro fell at the first hurdle in Istanbul, losing 6-4 7-5 in all-Spanish encounter with Arruabarrena.

The 30-year-old was by no means the only seed to bow out, with Katerina Siniakova beaten by Elena Rybakina after Maria Sakkari and Viktoria Kuzmova were also defeated.

Serena Williams marked her return to competitive action with a singles win at the Hopman Cup on Monday, but the United States still suffered defeat to Greece.

Williams, who featured in an exhibition match with sister Venus in Abu Dhabi last week having not previously played since her US Open final loss in September, battled to a 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 win over Maria Sakkari in Perth

Yet it was Greece who won the tie as Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Frances Tiafoe 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 before teaming up with Sakkari for a doubles win.

Tsitsipas and Sakkari beat Tiafoe and Williams 4-1 1-4 4-2, securing a Group B win for their country.

Williams, 37, acknowledged she had much to improve on following her singles triumph.

"It's great to be back out here. I love playing in Australia. Some of my best memories are here," said the 23-time grand slam singles champion.

"I was making a lot of errors. I was like, 'It's ok, it's your first match and you'll get better'. I just kept trying to think that."

Next up for Williams and Tiafoe is a clash with the Swiss pair of Belinda Bencic and Roger Federer on Tuesday.

Wang Qiang claimed her second WTA title in three months with a dominant victory over Yulia Putintseva at the Guangzhou Open. 

Serena Williams bowed out in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters on Tuesday, as Carolina Garcia progressed from a demanding tie and Karolina Pliskova ended a long losing record.

Mihaela Buzarnescu routed Maria Sakkari to win her first career WTA singles title at the Silicon Valley Classic.

Mihaela Buzarnescu has her eyes on more than one prize on Sunday, knowing that victory over Maria Sakkari in the Silicon Valley Classic final will lift her into the world's top 20.

Maria Sakkari sprung a surprise on Friday to end Venus Williams' hopes of reaching a ninth final at the Silicon Valley Classic.  

Venus Williams remains on course to reach the final of the Silicon Valley Classic for the ninth time, 20 years after her first appearance in the decider of the WTA Premier event.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.