Earlier today, Maria Sakkari faced Iga Swiatek in the group stage match of the ongoing WTA Finals 2021. The prestigious year-end tournament has commenced in the Mexican city Guadalajara. The tournament, currently in its 50th edition, sees participation from the top 8 singles and doubles WTA players.
The tournament follows a round-robin format. The 8 players are divided into two groups of four. Maria Sakkari and Iga Swiatek are a part of Group A(Chichen Itza), along with Aryna Sabalenka and Paula Badosa. Thus, in the first group stage match, the 26-year-old Sakkari faced the 20-year-old Swiatek. It was an easy win for Sakkari, who beat Swiatek 6-2 6-4.
At the end of the match, Iga Swiatek was seen in tears. A video of Sakkari giving her a hug and trying to comfort her has gone viral on social media.
“I was very solid in these conditions” Maria Sakkari reflecting on her performance with regards to the Guadalajara’s physical condition
In the first match of her maiden appearance at the WTA Finals, Maria Sakkari served an easy defeat to 2020 Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek. The Greek improved her head-to-head with the Pole to 3-0.
Speaking in a post-match interview, Sakkari expressed satisfaction about her performance at the high altitudes of Guadalajara. “I actually have a good game to play against her. All three times I played her, I played one of the best matches of the season. Like even today, I think I was very solid in these conditions.Obviously my serve really helped my game. I felt quite good with the altitude. I could control my shots pretty well. I think every day I’ll feel even better.”
“She’s only 20 years old” Maria Sakkari on Iga Swiatek
Following her defeat, Iga Swiatek broke down on the tennis court. Seeing the younger player struggle, Sakkari tried comforting her. A video of this has been making rounds on the internet. Speaking of this, Maria said “More than anything we’re human. Okay, it’s another tennis match. She’s only 20 years old. She’s going to have many more chances than I’ll have in the future because it’s only the beginning for her.I saw that she was struggling. It wasn’t a nice thing to see from the other side of the net. She’s a very, very nice girl. I mean, we always have great practices and great chats”.
“I’m very proud that I can be the first Greek woman to represent my country in the top 10 and of course in this tournament” – Maria Sakkari
The fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari created history this year by being the first woman from Greece to enter the WTA Top 10 rankings, and qualify for the WTA Finals. With compatriot Stefanos Tsitsipas currently ranked 4th in the world, it’s the first time that Greece has a male and female player in the singles top 10.
Talking about the tennis scenario in Greece, Sakkari remarked “It’s probably the biggest moment of tennis in Greece right now, having two players in the top 10. I think we’re both very proud that we achieved that. Tennis in Greece has been so big the last two years because of us. It’s a great honor. I’m very proud that I can be the first Greek woman to represent my country in the top 10 and of course in this tournament.”
Also read: WTA Finals 2021: Women’s Singles Group analysis, preview and prediction