Maria Sakkari, the Greek tennis virtuoso, who is currently the seventh best player in the world, will debut at the season-ending championships, WTA finals. The 26-year-old qualified for the finals, after reaching the quarter-finals at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Friday.
Sakkari reached the quarter-final this season as her second round opponent Anna Kalinskaya was forced to withdraw in the second set. The score was 6-2, 1-0 in favor of the Greek player.
Having been defeated in the first round of the 2019 Kremlin Cup, Sakkari has returned strongly to the Russian capital this year. This is will be her eighth quarter-final match this season.
The Greek champion faced Simona Halep in the last eight, in Moscow on Friday. She advanced to the semifinals of the Kremlin Cup, overcoming Simona Halep in the “8” of the tournament with 2-0 sets.
Halep had reached the quarter-finals on the back of consecutive straight-sets victories. The former top player in the world defeated Veronika Kudermetova 6-1, 7-6(4) to book her place in the last-8 of the WTA-500 event.
Maria Sakkari entered the match very strongly, making the break early in the service of the 30-year-old Romanian, who is number 12 in the world rankings. She won the first set 6-4 and the second set with the same score.
Sakkari held off a late surge from the Romanian, who broke back twice from 5-1 down in the second set. The rest of the top four seeds were all beaten on Friday, making the Greek a clear favorite for the event.
Sakkari to play Alexandrova for Moscow tennis trophy
Sakkari will now play Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova for the Moscow trophy. Alexandrova beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-4. It was the Belarusian’s first tournament after testing positive for Covid-19.
Sakkari continues a breakthrough season where she finished runner-up at the WTA 500 event in Ostrava, Czech Republic and reached the semi-finals at the Roland Garros French and the US Open majors.
“I’m very proud of myself and my team that we actually made it to the Finals for the first time. It is the first time in the history of Greece for a female tennis player,” Sakkari said.
“I was very hard on myself up until this year. Growing, and also getting older and more mature, you see certain things different. Being nice to myself was one of the most important things I’ve changed this year. Being nice during the games and the matches.”
Sakkari, ranked number seven in the world, is the fifth player after Ash Barty, Aryna Sabalenka, Barbora Krejcikova and Karolina Pliskova to qualify for the Finals so far. They will be held in November in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The event will be returning to its home in Shenzhen, China in 2022. The 2021 WTA Finals features the Top eight singles players and doubles teams on the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals. It includes 51 WTA tournaments and four Grand Slams, competing in a round-robin format.
The singles champion will be lifting the WTA Finals Billie Jean King Trophy, and the doubles champions will be earning the WTA Finals Martina Navratilova Trophy.
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