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Sakkari kicks off WTA Finals campaign with straight sets win over Pegula
Eight days after losing to Jessica Pegula, Maria Sakkari beats the American to kick off her WTA Finals campiagn on a winning note
A semi-finalist at the season-ending WTA Finals 12 months ago, Greece’s Maria Sakkari kicked off her 2022 campaign on a winning note with a straight sets win over world No 3 Jessica Pegula in the first singles match of the tournament.
PLayed in front of a sparse crowd on Halloween Monday in the United States, Sakkari needed two tiebreaks to win 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) in two hours and 12 minutes at Dickies Arena.
The win for Sakkari came just eight days after Pegula beat her in the final of the WTA 1000 Guadalajara Open in straight sets to secure the biggest title for the American. It also improves her career head-to-head record over Pegula to 4-2.
“Obviously, I had to do things different than last time” – Sakkari
Sakkari was the last player to qualify for the eight-player elite event, helped by her runner-up finshes in Parma and Guadalajara. And on Monday, she played like she deserved to be there.
“I was very aggressive,” Sakkari said as quoted by the WTA Tour website. “If you’re passive, Jess is just going to make you run — she’s going to hit the ball very hard, and it’s over. Obviously, I had to do things different than last time. Last week was exhausting for me. I wasn’t very sharp in my reactions.”
For Sakkari, it was her first top 5 win of the season – something she did not realise until she was told after the match.
“In all those tournaments I did well, I beat very good players. I beat Coco [Gauff], I beat Pegula,” Sakkari said. “So many players that were not Top 10, but at the same time now they’re Top 5 players. I beat [Elena] Rybakina but because of the [Wimbledon] points that are not counting she doesn’t have the real ranking she’s supposed to.
Despite the loss, Pegula remains alive in the tournament due to its round-robin format and will face world No 2 Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka, who faced off in the second singles match of the day, later in the week.