Greek tennis champion Maria Sakkari secured a place in her first WTA singles final since 2019 knocking out No.1 seed Iga Swiatek in the J&T Banka Ostrava Open semifinals on Saturday.
Sakkari beat the Polish champion 6-4, 7-5, after one hour and 51 minutes. She won the very first game of the match, when she slammed a forehand winner to obtain the decisive lone break of the first set. Sakkari never faced a break point in that set, sweeping to the one-set lead by hitting 13 winners to Swiatek’s nine.
⚡️akk steps 🆙
— wta (@WTA) September 25, 2021
Sakkari faced adversity in two lengthy service games in the early stages of the second set, and had to fend off her first break point of the day before holding for 2-2. But after pulling herself out of that danger, the Greek drew errors from Swiatek to move ahead by a break at 3-2.
Swiatek finally broke the Sakkari serve later on, charging into the forecourt for a put away to level the set at 4-4. But at 5-5, Sakkari again put Swiatek’s serve under pressure, and she converted her third break point of that game with a forehand winner down the line to lead 6-5. Sakkari polished off the win on her first match point in the following game.
The Greek champion is now one win away from her second career WTA singles title. To get that crown, she will have to beat the winner of Saturday’s second semifinal: either Anett Kontaveit of Estonia or 2nd-seeded crowd favorite Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.
Sakkari at career-high singles ranking of world No. 12
On 20 September 2021, Sakkari reached a career-high singles ranking of world No. 12, making her the highest ever ranked female Greek player in the Open Era.
She now has collected seven wins over Top 10 opposition this season following her latest victory over World No.6 Swiatek. Sitting at No.6 on the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals Leaderboard, Sakkari is edging closer to a possible Top 10 debut sometime this season.
Sakkari has won one tennis singles title on the WTA Tour at the 2019 Morocco Open, where she defeated Johanna Konta in the final. She was also semifinalist of 2017 Wuhan Open, where she defeated Caroline Wozniacki en route, her first top-10 win.
In 2019, she reached another Premier 5 semifinal at the Italian Open where she defeated, among other players, Petra Kvitová.
In 2020, Sakkari reached the fourth round at both the Australian Open and US Open. In 2021, she has reached the semifinals at the French Open and the 2021 US Open making her the first woman from Greece to reach a Grand Slam semifinal.
Sakkari is known for her aggressive, all-court style of play, centered around her strong serve and powerful groundstrokes. Sakkari served the sixth most aces of any WTA player in 2020, with 144 aces served in 31 matches.