Spartan Sakkari into third round
Greece’s Maria Sakkari came from behind to defeat China’s Shuai Peng in three sets to advance to the third round of the 2019 US Open, where she will face world number two Ashleigh Barty of Australia.
Sakkari, the 30th seed here, had previously never played against Peng. Peng, currently ranked 167, is a former world number 14 and was a semi-finalist at the 2014 US Open.
This match originally began on Wednesday. With the score being 1-1 in the first set, the match was suspended due to rain. When play resumed on Thursday, it was Peng who took a 4-2 lead in the first set. However, Sakkari came back to go up 5-4 herself. Eventually, the set went to a tiebreaker. There, Sakkari led 4-2 but Peng came from behind to win it 7-5 and claim the first set.
In the second set, Sakkari raced out to a 5-1 lead. Peng then came back to reduce the Greek’s lead to 5-4, and even had a break point for 5-5. Nevertheless, Sakkari was able to close out the set 6-4 to force a decisive third set.
The Greek then carried this momentum into the third set, going up 4-0 and ultimately winning it 6-2. Sakkari had six aces and 10 double faults, while Peng had three aces and five double faults. Sakkari hit 38 winners and 46 unforced errors, and Peng hit 28 winners and 38 unforced errors in the match, which lasted two hours and 41 minutes. The Greek has now reached the third round of the US Open for just the second time in her career, after previously having done so back in 2017. This marks the seventh time in her career that she has made the third round at a major, but she is currently 0-6 in third-round matches.
Sakkari will now take on Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, the world number two, for a spot in the fourth round. Barty leads the head-to-head 3-1, which includes two wins over Sakkari this year. Barty beat the Greek in the third round of the Australian Open in straight sets, and just two weeks ago in the quarterfinals of Cincinnati in three sets. It must also be noted that Barty had the day off on Thursday, unlike Sakkari, as the Aussie was able to complete her second-round match on Wednesday.
Sakkari will also be competing in the doubles event in New York, teaming up with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic. They will face the Russian-Kazakh duo of Natela Dzalamidze and Elena Rybakina in the first round.