Maria Sakkari breaks through for maiden 1000 title in Guadalajara, 1603 days after her first WTA title
The Greek defeated unseeded American Caroline Dolehide at Guadalajara for her biggest career title.
The third time has proven to be a charm for Maria Sakkari. In her third WTA 1000 final, the Greek powered past American Caroline Dolehide 7-5, 6-3 to claim her maiden 1000-level title at Guadalajara, and her second career title.
After raising the trophy she thanked the packed house, then turned to her longtime coach, Tom Hill, and talked about the excruciating wait between winning her first WTA title in Rabat in 2019, and this special moment in Guadalajara.
“We’ve waited more than four years for a second title,” an emotional Sakkari said. “We’ve heard many bad things, that I would never win a title, that I’m a top-5 player but with only winning one title – that was very hard for me to overcome, and I’m so happy I did it here this week.”
For a player that has suffered her share of heartbreak on tour – look no further than Sakkari’s 1-7 record in WTA finals prior to Saturday, or the six-match final losing streak that she carried into her clash with Dolehide – the victory meant the world to the 28-year-old Greek.
A perennial top-ten talent who reached two WTA 1000 finals last year, at Indian Wells and Guadalajara, Sakkari has had her share of struggles in 2023. She broke down in tears after a first-round loss at the US Open which ended her Grand Slam season with a disappointing 2-4 record, saying: “I don’t know what I’m going to do, I’m suffering on the court.”
All smiles on a perfect week
She knew what to do this week in Mexico.
With a smile on her dial, which reflected the inner calm that she played with, Sakkari never dropped a set across her five victories, and handled pressure moments with grace.
She was pushed early and often by Dolehide, the 111th-ranked American who had powered into the final behind a sledgehammer forehand and rising confidence. The 25-year-old, who became the second lowest-ranked finalist in WTA 1000 history (since 2009) will make her top-50 debut as a result of her triumph.
But Saturday belonged to Sakkari, who had all the answers for all comers in Guadalajara this week.
Dolehide rallied from from a break down to make the opening set tight, but Sakkari broke it open by winning the final two games.
Sakkari broke for 3-2 in the second set and never looked back. She held serve twice and broke Dolehide at 15 in the final game to finish off her triumph in one hour and 43 minutes.
After dropping just 28 games in five matches, the Greek is set to move back up to No 6 in the rankings (from No 9 this week).