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By Chris Oddo | Saturday August 4, 2018

In its first year at San Jose, The Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic will have a first-time champion.

Maria Sakkari battled back from a set and 4-1 down to defeat American Danielle Collins and set a final clash with Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.

The Greek is the first woman from her country to reach a final since 2008 when Eleni Daniilidou won the title at Hobart.

She rallied from a double-break down in the second set and then broke open a tight third set by snagging the final four games from the 24-year-old Collins.

Sakkari was the more physical presence and she found a way to grind down the defense of the American, who faced 14 break points and surrendered six, including three in the final set.

Buzarnescu continued her incredible season in the first semifinal of the day by outlasting Elise Mertens, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. In a rematch of the Hobart final (won by Mertens), Buzarnescu rallied back from an early deficit and took advantage of the fact that Mertens was suffering from an arm injury in the third set.

The 30-year-old won 16 of 28 return points in the deciding set and converted all three break points she saw while not facing one herself.

Tennis Express

“I’m so pleased and happy to be in the final, the third final of my career,” Buzarnescu told reporters after the win. “Even being able to play semifinals at more WTA tournaments was a great result for me. I really need to look at that and use it to stay strong and positive for the future.”

Buzarnescu improved to 34-19 on the season. Prior to 2018 the 30-year-old had only won three matches at the WTA level.

Sakkari, 23, says her mentality made the difference in her two hour and 13 minute clash with Collins.

“I think I wasn’t playing well because I was not positive,” Sakkari said, of falling behind by a set and 4-1. “Once I started feeling more positive, then I started playing better. My tennis was there—I have been playing very good tennis for the last five days or so. I knew that it was there, I knew something had to change - it was from being negative to positive.”

Sakkari and Buzarnescu will meet for the first time on Sunday.


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