Sakkari Secures SF Berth At WTA Finals; Kontaveit The Favorite?
by Staff | November 16th, 2021, 11:11 am
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The round robin stage of the WTA Finals came to an end Monday night in Guadalajara. With just one spot remaining in the semifinal knockout round, it came down to either Maria Sakkari or Aryna Sabalenka.

In the end, it was Sakkari securing the final berth, beating the Belarussian 7-6(1), 6-7(6), 6-3.

“Obviously my season is not finished yet, but this tournament has been very successful after today’s win,” the 26-year-old Sakkari said. “I’m just very, very happy that I still show good emotions on court, I still play with my heart even though it’s been 11 months since we started this season. I’m just going to enjoy tomorrow’s match.”

Sakkari had lost four straight to Sabalenka, but on this night, Sabalenka failed to serve out the first set at 5-3.

After two more failed bids to serve it out for a third, Sabalenka closed it out in the tiebreaker and then took a 3-1 lead in the decider. However, 19 double faults — including 10 in the final set — spelled doom for Sabalenka.

“I think it was a rollercoaster match from both of us,” Sakkari said. “I was up a break, then she was up a break. It was just a matter of who took the chances. I think at the end I just played with my heart and fought well, just turned things around.”

Said Sabalenka, “I just couldn’t find my rhythm,” she said. “The whole match I was really struggling with my serve. On some moment I found it, and on some moment I couldn’t do anything with my serve. It’s a tough match. Just crazy how bad I was serving in the last matches, especially this week. I guess a lot of work in the pre-season I will do.”

In an earlier dead match, Iga Swiatek will leave her first WTA Finals with a win. The former French champion snapped Paula Badosa’s 8-match win streak with a 7-5, 6-4 victory.

Today in the semifinals, Sakkari will take on the red-hot Anett Kontaveit who has won 28 of her last 31 matches.

“I told her in Moscow that I’m going to see her here,” Sakkari said of the meeting. “I’m very glad that she’s here because she’s a very nice person and she deserves it.

“But it all comes down to obviously who plays a better match tomorrow. I’m going to fight for it, do whatever I can to advance to the final. I just really want to enjoy tomorrow’s match because the atmosphere here is just unreal.”

Badosa will battle Garbine Muguruza in a battle of Spaniards.

“I think it was a really solid match from me,” said Swiatek. “I’m pretty happy that I had a chance to show my tennis finally, overcome all these factors around, just play the game. I really enjoyed myself today on court, which is really important for me. Also, I hope Paula, she’s going to have the best result here. I’m going to be cheering for sure tomorrow.”

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