Four players advanced to the quarter-finals at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic on Wednesday, but only one seed, Daria Kasatkina, seeded 4, who overcame Caroline Garcia in a clash of former Top 10 players, while Zhang Shuai took out Madison Keys, the 3rd seed, Magda Linette edged past Petra Martic, seeded 6 and qualifier Ana Konjuh ousted 9th-seeded Alison Riske.
Today was a great match for both of us. Madison is a great player and I had to play my best tennis. I think we're both fighters, and that's why we always play close, very tough matches. I didn't think too much about my opponent. I just thought about myself, tried my best and worked on what we practiced and improved... with my coach. Zhang Shuai
Currently ranked 31, Kasatkina is finding form after plummeting to 69 in the rankings over the past year or so, as the Russian rallied back from a set down, to beat France’s Garcia, 3-6 7-5 6-3.
Two games away from a straight-sets defeat in the second set, Kasatkina came from 3-1 down in the decider to even her career head-to-head against Garcia at 1-1.
“It was a tough match,” Kasatkina said in her on-court interview. “From my point of view, I think the level of the game was very good, and I’m really happy that I was able to turn the match in the second set.
“Caroline was serving really well, so it was tough. The balls kept bouncing high so it was tough to return, but I was really happy that I was able to find a way to do it.
“Sometimes, the main adjustment is to just put the balls inside the court. This is everything you’re trying to thing about.
“It’s one more, one more, one more. It doesn’t matter how. It’s important to just put the ball inside the court, and try to deal with what you get.
“I’m very proud… I’m coming to the tournaments to go further and further, so I’m happy to be in the quarter-finals and already looking forward to my next match.”
Her quarter-final opponent is Poland’s 45th-ranked Linette, who upset Croatia’s Martic and beat Kasatkina in 3 sets in the 2nd round of the 2018 Australian Open.
Linette kicked off the the day with a 7-5 7-6(5) win over the 6th seed, in which the Pole was a break down early in the first set, and 3-1 and 5-3 down in the second set tiebreak.
Having beaten Martic in 3 sets in each of their previous meetings, however, the Polish No 2 managed to avoid being taken the distance for a third time by winning the last 5 points of the match.
“She’s very tough,” Linette said after the match. “She serves so well, so you feel immediately that you need to do really good on your serve.
“In the second set, I thought that I just wanted to be as solid as I could be in my service games, but she pulled off some great shots. It was really, really tough.
“I knew would need to try to be a little bit more aggressive today, to be the one who dictated the points more… it’s the first time that I’m into the quarterfinals of a WTA 500 so I’m very excited and I’m playing pretty well, so I’m really happy.”
To keep a perfect head-to-head record against the Croatian at 3-0, Linette struck 27 winners to 25 unforced errors in the 1 hour 52-minute victory, nearly doubling Martic’s 15 winners.
Meanwhile, another Croatian, Konjuh reached her first WTA 500-level quarter-final in 4 years with a 6-1 6-4 win over Riske, her 4th win of the week, having come through the qualifying rounds.
A former top 20 player, Konjuh, who is currently ranked 116, won 5 games on the trot with some ease in the opener, dropping just 3 points on serve, and earned the decisive break early in the second set.
In the quarters, Konjuh meets China’s Zhang extended her career mastery over Keys with a 7-5 7-6(5) upset of the No 3 seed in the night session, improving her all-time head-to-head record against the former US Open finalist to 5-2.
“Today was a great match for both of us,” Zhang said in her on-court interview. “Madison is a great player and I had to play my best tennis.
“I think we’re both fighters, and that’s why we always play close, very tough matches.
“I didn’t think too much about my opponent. I just thought about myself, tried my best and worked on what we practiced and improved… with my coach.
“The last few weeks for me were very tough, and I want to continue.”
Zhang came from 3-0 down in the second set to close out the 1 hour 41-minute win, extending a track record of success against the American that dates back a decade.
The World No 51 could not convert 2 set points on serve at 5-3 in the opener, nor a match point at 5-4 in the second, but rose to the occasion later in each set before securing victory on her 3rd match point.