The first round of matches at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic were completed on Tuesday with three Americans advancing at the expense of two others, and an Australian coming back from match points down to defeat yet another.
She really kind of killed me in the first set. I wasn't ready to get so many tough balls, even after some good serves I hit. I just knew I had to stay really close to her in the second set. I stayed mentally tough. I didn't give up even though I was down 6-1, 5-3 pretty comfortably, and I definitely found ways to win today. Ajla Tomljanovic
Danielle Collins, the No 7 seed beat Shelby Rogers, 6-4 6-3, to set up a second round meeting with Sloane Stephens, who defeated Catherine McNally, 6-4 6-2, after trailing 4-0 in the opener, while wild-card Claire Liu got past Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, 6-3 4-6 6-4.
For Stephens, the victory was her first match in over a month after a 3rd round defeat to Russia’s Liudmila Samsonova at Wimbledon on 2 July.
“I was feeling a bit of nerves,” said Stephens, who won eight straight games in the middle of the match. “I was unsure of the sun and I was like a little bit shaky, so when I came out here, I knew it was going to be tough, but I just had to calm down and play.
“I think when I was down 4-0 I realised, ‘Okay, now it’s time to play’.
“It was a tough start but I was happy to reel off some games and get that set, and then eventually, the match.
“I haven’t played here in nine years. I have family here and I have so many fans here that I haven’t been able to see… so I was happy to get the win.”
Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic fought back from match-point down, twice, to win her opening round match against Amanda Anisimova after dropping the opening set in just 25 minutes.
She was on the brink of defeat when Anisimova served for the match in both the second and third sets but, somehow, carved out a 1-6 7-5 7-5 victory.
Tomljanovic, ranked 50 in the world, converted on just 6 of her 22 break-point opportunities in the 2 hour 10 minute match, but dug deep when it mattered most.
“I was fortunate to come back from a few match points down, but I thought she played some really great tennis at times,” Tomljanovic said in her on-court interview. “I’m happy to be through.”
Anisimova broke the Tomljanovic serve 6 times but ultimately 40 unforced errors from the American, who also struck 40 winners, proved her downfall.
Trailing 6-1, 5-3, the Aussie won 5 straight games, saving a match point in the 10th game as the American served for a spot in the second round.
Later Tomljanovic twice came from a break down in the decider to seal her comeback victory, winning 4 straight games to take the match and erasing Anisimova’s second match point to hold serve in the 9th game in the process.
“She really kind of killed me in the first set. I wasn’t ready to get so many tough balls, even after some good serves I hit,” Tomljanovic said on-court afterwards. “I just knew I had to stay really close to her in the second set.
“I stayed mentally tough. I didn’t give up even though I was down 6-1, 5-3 pretty comfortably, and I definitely found ways to win today.
“Even though I didn’t feel great in the first set, I knew my tennis was there if I just kept hitting out and finding my spots, which I did.”
Tomljanovic will face 8th-seeded Yulia Putintseva in the round of 16 after the Kazakh defeated Croatia’s Donna Vekic, 7-5 6-3, earlier in the day.
Also advancing in the day session was former Top 10 player Kristina Mladenovic from France, with a straight-sets win over Korean qualifier Han Na-lae, 6-4 6-4, and she now takes on top seed Elise Mertens from Belgium in round two.