Maria Sakkari has dedicated her latest US Open victory to Greece after reaching her second grand slam semi-final.
The 17th seed is into her second grand slam semi-final after beating two-time grand slam finalist Karolina Pliskova 6-4 6-4.
Sakkari hit 22 winners and just 12 unforced errors as she converted two of her five break points to seal a place in the last four at the US Open.
In her post-match press conference, Sakkari dedicated her latest victory to her home country Greece and described what her deep run in New York means to the country, “Well, I think it’s a big thing for Greece,” Sakkari told the press.
“I didn’t have a chance to say that on court, I want to dedicate this win to Greece because we struggled a lot last month with some fire damages. So for me winning for Greece, making Greek people proud and happy, especially in difficult times, it makes me even more happy because you know how much I love my country.
“What I witnessed after the French was only good things. I never heard a bad comment from someone. They were all coming to me with a very nice smile and very nice words to say. I can only embrace that and just have good memories from it because that’s not going to last for my entire life. I’m going to be remembered, for sure, but I’m not going to be an active player in 10 years or 15 years.”
Whatever happens in Sakkari’s career she and Stefanos Tsitsipas would have made Greek tennis history that will be remembered for a long time to come.
On Thursday Sakkari will play her second grand slam semi-final having lost her first one to Barbora Krejcikova at Roland Garros in a dramatic three set match.
Speaking in her press conference Sakkari spoke about the differences between then and now with the Greek claiming she is playing better tennis now, “I could have closed that match at the third set. I think I will do things differently this time,” Sakkari admitted.
“But I feel like my tennis is better now than it was at the French. I’m more prepared. I’m ready. But as I mentioned earlier, we all have equal chances of making the finals. After reaching my first Grand Slam semi-final at the French, I felt like I can do it again. It was not luck because I beat all these good players.
“That gives me a lot of confidence because I beat some very, very good players to reach the semi-finals this time. I’m actually feeling really well. I don’t want to jinx it. My tennis looks in a great place right now. Mentally I’m pretty calm.
“I don’t want to get too excited for this win today because I have to play tomorrow. If I had a day off, it would be different. I’m very excited to play my second semi-final.”
Sakkari will have a massive opportunity to reach her first grand slam final when she takes on British qualifier Emma Raducanu.
The Brit is yet to drop a set through qualifying and the main draw having just beaten Olympic champion Belinda Bencic in the last eight.
However Sakkari has said she is not favourite for the match, “But I wouldn’t call myself the favourite. I think we all have equal chances of winning the semi-finals and then winning the title. I would give 25% to each starting tomorrow, then 50 to the two finalists. We are all for a reason here. We’re all playing well.”
The match will be the second night session match which will roughly be at 2am BST.
Another Defeat For Iga Swiatek – Should Her Fans Start To Worry?
Iga Swiatek unexpectedly lost to Beatrice Haddad Maia in the quarter-finals of the National Bank Open in Toronto. This was the third defeat of the WTA world No.1 in a month and a half. Is there anything to worry about?
Article written by Dominik Senkowski (@dsenkowski07)
It was an extremely close match played in difficult conditions. Swiatek lost to Beatrice Hadad Maia 4:6, 6:3, 5:7 in Toronto.
The Polish woman admitted that she could not deal with the strong wind, saying during her press conference “I think without the wind I would manage. But it was pretty crazy out there.”
Haddad Miai, who is the first Brazilian to reach the last eight of a WTA 1000 event, revealed that she also had problems with the weather.
”We have no influence on the weather, we have to deal with it somehow. I think mentally I managed to overcome it,” she said.
This was the third defeat for Swiatek in a month and a half. She had been undefeated since February, winning six tournaments in a row, including a Roland Garros. After that, however, she did not reach the semi-finals even once. In Wimbledon she was eliminated in the third round by Alize Cornet and then in Warsaw in the quarter-finals by Caroline Garcia. Now she did not make it past Beatrice Hadad Maia in Toronto. Do fans of the Polish woman have anything to worry about?
Of course, Swiatek as the top seed should have played better against the Brazilian. However, it must be remembered that she is still only 21 years old and has the right to fluctuate in form. Even the best tennis players of recent years – Roger Federer, Serena Serena, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic – did not win all the games in their best time. Swiatek still has a phenomenal balance of 49 wins to 5 defeats this year. She is the undisputed leader of the WTA rankings and will probably end the year as number one in the world.
There is no doubt that the rivals are more motivated to clash with Iga. In addition, they increasingly believe that they are able to defeat her since Cornet, Garcia and Hadad Maia did it. But still, it all depends on Iga. If she improves her serve, she can be unstoppable again. Recently with Garcia and Hadad Maia, she had problems with the second serve. She must pay more attention to it.
Time for Iga
Time should play in favour of Swiatek. Before Toronto, she played exceptionally on clay courts in Warsaw in a tournament organized by her father Tomasz. Frequent changes of the surface from grass to clay and hard courts in 1.5 months are not easy at such a young age. In Poland Iga said that she had no experience with it, she was just learning. She continues to learn valuable lessons and still can be better. We should remember it.
It seems that in the coming days she will be training on hard courts. She could feel more confident and come stronger as in spring. In Warsaw Iga said that she treats the first tournament before the US Open swing less seriously. She was aware that she needed more playing time to get better results. Her increasing self-esteem makes her behave calmer, even after defeats. That is why she can return to the right path soon.
Rafael Nadal Returns To Cincinnati With Shot At No.1 Ranking
This is what the king of clay has to do to reclaim the top position.
It has been over a month since Rafael Nadal last played a match on the Tour but in the coming days, he will have a chance to return to the top of the ATP rankings.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion has been absent from action ever since pulling out of his semi-final match at Wimbledon due to an abdominal tear. He was set to play at this week’s National Bank Open in Montreal but withdrew after feeling a ‘slight bother’ in his abdominal region following training. Nadal decided not to play after consulting with his doctor.
Instead, the Spaniard will return next week at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. He confirmed his return in an Instagram post, where he wrote: “Very happy to play again in Cincy. Flying there tomorrow (Thursday).”
Whilst the Spaniard will be finding his feet in the coming days, in Cincinnati he has a chance to dethrone Daniil Medvedev from the world No.1 position. Medvedev lost his opening match in Montreal to Nick Kyrgios. To do this he would need to win the Masters 1000 event for the second time in his career and hope that Medvedev doesn’t make the quarter-finals. Nadal won Cincinnati back in 2013 after defeating John Isner in the final.
So far in his career, Nadal has spent 209 weeks as world No.1 with his longest streak being 56 weeks in a row (2010-2011). In total, he has been at the top of the rankings for eight separate periods and last held the position in February 2020.
Nadal’s No.1 stints
-Aug 18 2008 – Jul 5th 2009 (46 weeks)
-Jun 7 2010 – Jul 3rd 2011 (56 weeks)
-Oct 7th 2013 – Jul 6th 2014 (39 weeks)
-Aug 21 2017 – Feb 18 2018 (26 weeks)
-Apr 2nd 2018 – May 13th 2018 (6 weeks)
-May 21st 2018 – Jun 17th 2018 (4 weeks)
-Jun 25th 2018 – Nov 4th 2018 (19 weeks)
-Nov 4th 2019 – Feb 2nd 2020 (13 weeks)
At present nine out of the world’s top 10 players will participate in the Western and Southern Open. The only exception is Novak Djokovic who is currently banned from entering America because he isn’t vaccinated against Covid-19.
Jack Draper Considered Skipping Montreal Masters Before Getting Biggest Win Of Career
The rising star completes a trio of British players who have booked their places in the third round of the Masters 1000 event.
British qualifier Jack Draper says his decision to play in Montreal this week has paid off after he scored his first-ever win over a top 10 player on Wednesday.
The 20-year-old stunned world No.5 and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 7-6(4), in what is only his fourth appearance in the main draw of a Masters 1000 event. Draper, who is currently ranked 82nd in the world, won 74% of his first service points and blasted 21 winners past his Greek rival. Recovering from a 1-3 deficit in the second set en route to a straight sets victory.
Leading up to this week, Draper and his team considered not playing in Montreal following his 6-4, 6-2, loss to Andrey Rublev in Washington. However, their decision to do so was the right one. After coming through two rounds of qualifying, he beat France’s Hugo Gaston in the first round before knocking out Tsitsipas.
“This is why I put in all the hard work, for nights like this on stages like this,” Draper said in an on-court interview. “Last week [after] Washington, me and my coach probably were thinking we weren’t even going to come here. We were going to maybe train a week, get a bit of confidence. But it paid off coming.”
“I didn’t really have much of a game plan. I just thought I needed to play good tennis to beat Stefanos. He’s at the top of the game for a reason. [He’s] someone I’ve looked up to the last few years. It’s just good to be out here and try to express myself on this stage.” He added.
Draper’s win comes during what has been a solid season for the Brit who has won four Challenger titles. A former top 10 junior player, he won his first main draw Grand Slam match in June at Wimbledon and reached the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International.
Awaiting the youngster in the third round will be French veteran Gael Monfils who is playing in his first tournament since May. Monfils defeated Maxime Cressy 7-6(10), 7-6(8).
Draper is one of three British players to have reached the last 16 in Montreal. Ninth seed Cameron Norrie will next play home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime and Dan Evans faces Taylor Fritz.
According to the Pepperstone live ATP rankings, Draper will break into the world’s top 70 for the first time next week.
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