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Sakkari beats Stephens to become first woman to reach last 16 in Toronto

Maria Sakkari, the No 3 seed, will play the winner of the match between American Amanda Anisimova and Czech Karolina Pliskova, the No 14 seed, in the next round

Maria Sakkari at the 2022 National Bank Open in Toronto Maria Sakkari at the National Bank Open in Canada Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Greece’s Maria Sakkari advanced to the round of 16 at the National Bank Open on Tuesday evening after a three-set win over American Sloane Stephens in Toronto.

Sakkari, the No 3 seed, needed two hours and nine minutes to get past Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 at the Aviva Centre.

Ranked No 4 in the world, Sakkari will face the winner of Wednesday’s clash against American Amanda Anisimova and Czech Karolina Pliskova, the No 14 seed, for a place in the quarter-finals.

14 of the 16 women’s seeds are still alive in the draw with only ninth seed Emma Raducanu and 11th seed Daria Kasatkina being knocked out of the tournament so far.

“I believe you’re going to see a different Maria than in the last three months” – Sakkari

Prior to her match, Sakkari had spoken to the media in Toronto where she had spoken about the struggles she had to deal with after becoming an elite player.

“I just sat down with Tom (her coach) for a lot of hours and just realized that I’m not enjoying being one of the best players in the world, which was something very tough to admit and very tough to handle,” Sakkari said as quoted by the WTA Tour. “But it’s the truth. It’s the reality. I think that the pressure and everything was something I had to deal with.”

But Sakkri, who has struggled in the last few months, says she is on the right track now and believes she is about to turn a corner.

“[In Greece] I was always the person and the player that, because my mom was very famous back home, they always used to say ‘She’s never going to make it, even if she changes everything. She will never make it.’ And then suddenly, out of nowhere, I become one of the best players in the world.  So for me, it was very tough to handle it. I struggled. Sometimes when you are on the tour and you play week after week, you don’t stop and you don’t realize what you have really achieved. It takes time for some people and I believe that it took time for me.  But I feel like I’m on the right track to being myself again. And I believe you’re going to see a different Maria than in the last three months.” 

Toronto WTA 1000, other second-round matches (Aviva Centre, hard, USD 2.527.250, most recent results first):

  • Bianca Andreescu vs. Alize Cornet
  • Belinda Bencic vs. Serena Williams
  • Kaia Kanepi vs. Garbine Muguruza
  • Qinwen Zheng vs. Ons Jabeur
  • Beatriz Haddad Maia vs. Leylah Fernandez
  • Jil Teichmann vs. Anett Kontaveit
  • Aryna Sabalenka vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo
  • Yulia Putintseva vs. Paula Badosa
  • Iga Swiatek vs. Ajla Tomljanovic
  • Simona Halep vs. Shuai Zhang
  • Jelena Ostapenko vs. Alison Riske-Amritraj
  • Jessica Pegula vs. Asia Muhammad
  • Elena Rybakina vs. Coco Gauff
  • Elise Mertens vs. Camila Giorgi
  • Amanda Anisimova vs. Karolina Pliskova
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