Sakkari ends Badosa’s Indian Wells run to reach biggest career final
Sakkari will meet Iga Swiatek in the final of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday with the winner becoming the new world No 2 in women’s tennis
Greece’s Maria Sakkari reached the biggest final of her career, scoring a three-set upset win over defending champion Paula Badosa to reach the championship match of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The win makes Sakkari the first Greek player to reach the final in Indian Wells and sets up a high-stakes clash against Poland’s Iga Swiatek on Sunday, with the winner assured of climbing to No 2 in the world rankings for the first time.
The Greek starts and ends the match on a strong note
Badosa started the match by breaking the Sakkari serve but the Greek then started to dominate, winning five of the next six games to go up 5-2. She broke the Spaniard’s serve once again to claim the first set 6-2.
Badosa began to find her feet in the second set, breaking Sakkari in the third game to lead 2-1. Although the Greek broke back immediately for 2-2, Badosa got another break in the fifth game which she then consolidated for a 4-2 lead.
The Spaniard, who won the delayed 2021 edition in October, saved a break point at 4-3 and held her next two serve games to win the set 6-4 and take the match into a deciding set.
Sakkari, who had a poor 4-15 record in semi-finals coming into this match, regained the upper hand by breaking Badosa early in the deciding set to lead 2-0. Although the 26-year-old dropped her serve in the third game, she won the next four games in a row to win complete the 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win over one hour and 49 minutes.
Swiatek vs Sakkari Chapter 5
Sakkari holds a 3-1 lead in her head-to-head with Swiatek, winning all of their three matches in 2021 in straight sets. Swiatek won their most recent encounter, just a few weeks ago in Doha, also in straight sets.
While Swiatek has one Grand Slam title under her belt, Saturday’s final will be a big one for both her and Sakkari. The winner will receive a $1.2 million prize money cheque and reach a new career-high ranking of No 2 in the world, behind Ash Barty.