Ons Jabeur smashes a forehand return against Madison Keys at the San Jose State Tennis Center on Wednesday AUG 3, 2022. (MSVC)
In a battle of power versus finesse, it was finesse that proved mightier.
Third seeded Ons Jabeur was in total control in her straight sets victory over American Madison Keys 7-5 6-1 in the evening’s featured match to highlight Day 3 at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State Tennis Center.
The first set was evenly played between both players until late in the set. A medical timeout happened after Jabeur was leading 6-5 when Keys cut her finger getting a water bottle. Play resumed after the medical team was able to stop the bleeding on Key’s finger.
Jabeur, known for her perfectly placed drop shots, was relentless in the second set and never allowed Keys to get back into the match. Jabeur dictated the pace of play as Keys was unable to play her normally fast and aggressive style.
“I think I was more comfortable when it was 5-5 (in the first set),” said Jabeur. “I changed some things technically. I was returning (serves) better, I stepped in more on the court. There were a lot of key moments, key points during the 5-5 (tie). She could’ve worked her serve there but I was making less mistakes and making her play one more shot.”
Number two seed Paula Badosa escaped with a three-set victory over up and coming 21-year-old Elizabeth Mandlik 6-3 5-7 7-6 (7-5).
Badosa cruised through the first set, but Mandlik stormed back in the second set to even the match. Mandlik had a chance to close out match when she was serving up 6-5 in the third set but Badosa broke serve and ended up tying it up at 6-6 to send the match to the deciding tiebreaker.
Badosa was able to outlast Mandlik in the tiebreaker winning it 7-5 and the match to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals on Friday. She let out a ferocious yell after winning match point.
“I think my experience helped me to win the match,” said Badosa. “I think I played at a pretty good level. She (Mandlik) played amazing. The fight that I have and accepting everyone (challenge) is what gave me the win.”
Both players had more unforced errors than winners and had several double faults throughout the match that was 2:31 long.
Mandlik had an impressive run at the tournament winning two matches in the qualifying stage before defeating Alison Riske Amritraj to make it to the round of 16.
“I for sure felt like I had the match so it’s very disappointing. I know that I can play with pretty much anybody and she (Bedosa) is (number) two in the world. So my belief (in my ability) is much higher than it was, and I’ll just keep pushing (forward) from there.”
In earlier action, Amanda Anisimova stormed back after dropping the first set to defeat eight seed Karolina Pliskova in three sets 3-6 7-5 6-1.
Anisimova was able to find her groove in the second set as she took control of the match after winning the second set. Pliskova had no answers for Anisimova who advanced to the quarterfinals after cruising through the third set.
Anisimova trailed, 6-3, 3-2, but broke Pliskova’s serve to love at that stage and proceeded to win 10 of the next 11 games.
Fifth time was the charm for Anisimova who had been 0-4 against Pliskova previously and had only won one set.
“I started to play more of my game in the second set to shake off the nerves,” said Anisimova. “It was pretty hot (outside), I was fighting. I knew I had to stay focused every point. Sometimes I start off slow but (because) my game is pretty aggressive, it’s not the easiest to play sometimes. I was just happy I was able to find my groove.”
For Pliskova it was a disappointing to start to the hardcourt circuit of the tour.
“I had a good couple of matches. Both of them were super close, three setters. I feel like I’m close but for sure it was not my best tennis. But there is a long way to go till the US Open,” Pliskova said.
Last year’s finalist Daria Kasatkina took care of Taylor Townsend in straight sets 6-4 6-0. Kasatkina proved to be too much for Townsend who came into the round of 16 after winning her first match since 2015.
Kasatkina finished the match with four aces and won 62.5% of her total service points to advance to her second straight MSVC Quarterfinals. Townsend was not able to keep up with Kasatkina’s serve, only winning 29.5% of first return points.
“I wish!” said Kasatkina when asked if this year’s tournament felt like a repeat of her run in 2021. “I don’t know. I’ve already played and won two matches. If I can reach the final that would be great for me, if not there there’s a tournament next week and one another week after that.”
In doubles actions, the Chinese duo of Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan defeated the team of Nadiia Kichenok and Tereza Mihalikova in straight sets 6-3 6-3. The team of Latisha Chan and Beatriz Haddad-Maia beat the American duo of Asia Nuhammad and Taylor Townsend in straight sets 6-2 7-6 and the last doubles match of the night had the team of Gabriela Dabrowksi and Guiliani Olmos defeat the American duo of Emina Betkas and Kaitlyn Christian in straight sets 6-3 6-2.
UP NEXT: Tournament favorites Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka clash in a battle for a spot in the quarterfinals as the evening’s feature match on Thursday 8/4 at 7:00pm at the San Jose State Tennis Center.