Now that she’s reached the top-10, Maria Sakkari sets her sights on WTA Finals in Guadalajara
Maria Sakkari’s steady rise takes her into the top-10 for the first time in Monday’s WTA rankings. Now she sets her sights on bigger achievements.
Never mind the loss in Sunday’s Ostrava final to Anett Kontaveit, 6-2, 7-5. Never mind the two heartbreaking defeats in Grand Slam semifinals in 2021, at Roland-Garros and the US Open. Just pay attention to the trend, and the trend, at the moment, is Maria Sakkari’s friend.
The Greek star continued her rise up the ATP rankings this week by reaching the final in Ostrava, and though she did not come away with her first title since 2019, she will climb inside the WTA’s top-10 on Monday for the first time.
Ranked 22 at the end of 2020, Sakkari has been a steady force on tour in 2021, reaching her first two major semifinals and compiling a 34-16 record that includes seven top-10 wins, including five of six since Roland-Garros began.
Looking for consistency and mental strength
These days Sakkari is playing like someone who believes in her ability to lock horns with the best talents in the sport. She owes it to her mental strength and her ability to produce a high level of game on a regular basis.
“That’s what I was looking for, consistency, that’s what gets you to the top level,” she said after Sunday’s final in Ostrava. “Of course I’m disappointed with today’s result, but it’s a very positive result because I came here, I didn’t have many days off, I did not have many days of practice, but I played some great tennis and mentally I was 10 out of 10, which is the thing that matters the most and the thing that I really care about – it’s a great opportunity for me to end the season really well and strong.”
Top-10 is a big accomplishment, but there is more to achieve
Sakkari didn’t give much thought to the top-10 ranking as she competed this week in Ostrava, but after the match she told WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen in her press conference that it is a dream for every tennis player to take that elite step.
“It’s a big accomplishment for myself, people don’t realize how big it is for someone at the age of 26, not the age of 20,” she said, adding: “When no one believed that I could do it, myself and people around me really believed me. Of course I don’t want to stop here I don’t want to sound like I’ve achieved my goal, but it’s a very big step for my career and every tennis player. I truly believe it and it’s a big thing for every single player. Of course I see myself much higher but we’ll take it step by step.
“Of course I see myself much higher, but we’ll take it step by step.”Maria Sakkari
Nguyen asked Sakkari at which point she felt she could reach the top-10 and the Greek said that she started to believe after Roland-Garros, where became the first Greek woman to reach a major semi-final.
“I felt like I was ready to do it after the French but I felt like I was still far away because I needed consistency,” she said. “I really felt like I was ready to do it after the French, I did not prove myself that I could do it for the next two months because I was a little inconsistent. Then after playing semis at the US Open I was 100 percent sure that I deserved to be there.”
Sakkari says she is proud of her results in 2021, and reminds herself of all that she has achieved when she needs energy and confidence.
“Let’s be honest, not many players played two semifinals in Slams this year and have the results that I’m having,” she said. “I don’t want to sound cocky but that’s the reality. That’s something that I say, so I can also hear it at the same time, to give myself the power to continue.”
Next mission? Get to Guadalajara
Sakkari rises one spot in the Porsche Race to Guadalajara standings, to No 5, thanks to her final appearance in Ostrava. The Greek is looking like a lock to make her first WTA Finals appearance, and it’s something she is very much excited about.
“Guadalajara is a goal for us and I’m not going to lie. It’s a goal that I think I can achieve if I keep playing the way I’m playing now,” she said. “Indian Wells is one of the best tournaments in the world, I don’t see why I cannot do well there, but if I don’t I have other chances, Moscow and some of the 250s in Europe.”