Sakkari Ousted In Wuhan, Barred From Beijing
Maria Sakkari’s dream run in Wuhan ended in the semifinals, as France’s Caroline Garcia defeated the Greek player in straight sets, 6-3 6-2. Sakkari will now move up to a career-high ranking, and get an unexpected but well-deserved week off from tournament play.
Despite breaking Garcia’s serve in the first game of the match, the Greek qualifier was not strong enough to beat the world number 20. Still, Sakkari has a lot to be proud of for her amazing tournament in Wuhan. She will now soar up the rankings, from 80 in the world to 50. With few ranking points to defend between now and June, Greek tennis fans can hope to see their favorite player continue to rise up the rankings.
Sakkari was scheduled to compete in the prestigious China Open in Beijing next week. Like Wuhan, Beijing is also one of the biggest tournaments of the year. Due to Sakkari’s ranking, she was set to participate in qualifying where she would’ve been amongst the seeded players. However, the Beijing qualifying coincided with the semifinals of Wuhan.
There is a rule that the four semifinalists of Wuhan receive a bye in the first round of the main draw in Beijing. Sakkari making an unexpected run to the semifinals complicated things for the Beijing tournament organizers, as there was no rule in place regarding players who had not received direct entry into the main draw. In previous years, this was never an issue as players ranked so low had not ever been semifinalists in Wuhan.
Of course they could not simply move Sakkari to the main draw of Beijing and give her a bye, as there would not have been enough spots in the draw for this to happen. Perhaps they could have moved her to the main draw without giving her a bye, so she still gets a fair chance to compete in Beijing. Instead of getting a first round bye, she would at least bypass qualifying. Problem solved?
Unfortunately for Sakkari, the organizers ultimately decided that they would not try to make an exception for her. Despite this, there was still hope for Sakkari to compete in Beijing. The tournament organizers had only announced the four out of their five main draw wildcard recipients. In this situation, it only seemed logical for them to award the last remaining wildcard to Sakkari.
Ultimately, the tournament organizers in Beijing announced yesterday that the wildcard would be going to Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, much to the disappointment and frustration of Sakkari’s fans. It would not have been unreasonable to have Bouchard compete in qualifying, where she would have been without the wildcard due to her ranking. Unlike Sakkari, Bouchard has not played a match since losing in the first round of the US Open over a month ago, so she is obviously very well-rested. With all due respect, the Canadian has only won three of her last 12 matches, so the qualifying tournament is probably more appropriate for her current level of play. Furthermore, Bouchard’s fall in the rankings has been due to her mediocre results, as she has not had any injuries during this time period and she is going through a slump. This is also her fourth wildcard of the year which raises the question, is Bouchard even benefiting from these wildcards?
Although it may be frustrating for Sakkari to have to miss out on one of the biggest tournaments of the year, it is better for it to happen due to her success in Wuhan than for another reason, such as injury. Besides, having the week off could be a blessing in disguise for Sakkari. After playing seven matches in eight days in Wuhan, she could surely use this time to rest and recharge her batteries for her next event in Tianjin. The tournament begins on October 9, and Sakkari will be one of the top eight seeded players there.