Sakkari Storms into Semifinals

Sakkari Storms into Semifinals
 

Maria Sakkari’s impressive tournament in Wuhan has continued, as she defeated France’s Alize Cornet in the quarterfinals, 7-6 7-5 in 2 hours and 25 minutes.

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This is Sakkari’s first ever semifinal in a WTA tournament, and she becomes the first Greek player to reach a semifinal since 2012, when Eleni Daniilidou made the semifinals of Kuala Lumpur. Since Wuhan is a Premier 5 tournament, it must also be noted that this is the first time a Greek player made it to the semifinals of a tournament of that level or higher since Daniilidou in Miami 2004, which was also the only other time this has happened.

As in many of her previous matches this week, Sakkari went down an early break in the first set. Once again, Sakkari came back and turned it around from 0-2 to 5-3. She struggled to close out the set, as she needed eight set points to finish it, but in the end she took it 7-6 (7-2 in the tiebreak).

In the second set, Sakkari again went down an early break, however, she was able to come back from 1-3 down to go up 4-3. She then went down 4-5, and Cornet had the opportunity to serve for the set, but Sakkari immediately broke back and subsequently held, and broke again (to love) to take it 7-5.

In Friday’s semifinal, Sakkari will face another French player, Caroline Garcia. Garcia, currently ranked 20 in the world, won her quarterfinal 7-6 6-4 over Makarova of Russia. Sakkari and Garcia have never played each other before. Garcia has also had a good week at the Wuhan Open, recording two top 15 wins so far. Although it will be another difficult match, we can expect that Sakkari will fight as hard as she can.

"It's been a tough week for me, a good week obviously," Sakkari said after the match. "I've been running a lot inside the court, but it's not time to be tired. I still have tomorrow's match, and why not more matches to come?

"I just have never stopped fighting -- just run, take the opportunities, but mostly fight."

"I didn't have time to look at her game [today]. I obviously saw her playing sometimes, and I know that she's very aggressive player," Sakkari said of her French foe. 

"It's going to be a very tough match for me. She has been playing very well, and she had a really good year. I cannot tell you much, but we will see tomorrow."

The other semifinal match will be between the unseeded Australian Ashleigh Barty, and eighth seeded Jelena Ostapenko from Latvia, the surprise winner of this year’s French Open. All four semifinalists are aged 23 or younger.

As a result of having the best week of her career, Sakkari’s ranking will go up from 80 to either 50 or 51 with a loss. Over one-third of Sakkari’s ranking points (in a 52-week cycle) are from Wuhan. It will be the first time a Greek player has been ranked that high in over nine years. A win against Garcia will put her at 40, and if she wins the title she will be ranked 31 when the new rankings are released on Monday. 
 

HIGHLIGHTS: SAKKARI VERSUS CORNET

 
by Andrew Stamas
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