Day one of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose offered a slate of tough first-round matches, including Daria Kasatkina’s upset of reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, and has set the stage for a thrilling round 2.
After taking a beating in the first set, seventh seed Daria Kasatkina regrouped to defeat Elena Rybakina in her first match since the Championships, 1-6 6-2 6-0. Because Wimbledon did not award ranking points this year, Rybakina entered San Jose unseeded.
The two knew each other from playing juniors, and Kasatkina was prepared for the powerful hitting. She planned her approach accordingly, saying she did not look at the scoreboard because she “knew that with the hitters, high-level hitters especially, as soon as you lose the concentration they find a few winners. From thirty-love it can easily become thirty-all and then it’s another story.”
The San Jose night session crowd supported both players enthusiastically, but the Russian who lives in Barcelona had fans shouting for her in English, Russian, and Spanish. When the sun set and the lights came on, Kasatkina eased into the match. She explained later that she likes simple conditions without shadows on the court and a blinding burning sun: “I really like to play when it’s already dark. We play with the lights and for me, the night sessions, they just feel different.”
Rybakina played the first set with tremendous power, forcing Kasatkina back and controlling the points. In the second set, the temperatures cooled quickly, slowing the courts and favoring Kasatkina’s game. Absorbing Rybakina’s power, Kasatkina began to force errors as her opponent failed to focus and adjust her game to the changing court conditions.
After winning Wimbledon last month, Rybakina was engaged in a publicity tour that took her away from the courts and gym for over a week. The Kazakh is determined to get back into the groove before the US Open. Her time on the San Jose courts is not over yet, as she is also in the doubles draw with Amina Anshba. “I’m more single player so doubles is for fun and also it’s something where I can practice serves and returns. It’s good for my game. Same reactions and then it’s good to play some more matches, especially in the beginning of hard court season.”
Rybakina plays her first doubles match Tuesday. Kasatkina next faces American qualifier Taylor Townsend.
Madison Keys sets up second-round clash with Ons Jabeur
Madison Keys defeated Zhang Shuai 6-4 6-2 in just under an hour. The swift victory pits her against third seed Ons Jabeur in the second round. Describing the Tunisian, she did not mince words: “She’s just really good. It’s kind of crazy. Obviously, we have very different styles of games. So watching how she plays tennis and what she can do, it’s just incredible to me.”
With little time to enjoy her first-round victory, Keys is already bracing for a tough next match, “I feel like I’m going to be running a lot, which sucks.” The American laughed and added, “I’m very ready for dropshots.”
Jabeur won their only previous encounter 6-4 6-1, in Cincinnati 2020.