Maria Sakkari Opens Up About Personal Struggles After Record-Breaking US Open Win - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sakkari Opens Up About Personal Struggles After Record-Breaking US Open Win

After coming through a marathon encounter, the world No.18 revealed that the past few weeks have been far from easy for her.

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Maria Sakkari celebrates her win during a Women's Singles match at the 2021 US Open, Monday, Sep. 6, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Garrett Ellwood/USTA)

Greece’s Maria Sakkari says she has been struggling with her own identity in recent times and had ended up in tears during her practice sessions after reaching the quarter-finals of the US Open.

 

The world No.18 outlasted Bianca Andresscu 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 in what was a three-and-a-half-hour blockbuster. Sakkari finally crossed the finish line at 2:15 am to make the match the latest women’s match to ever finish in US Open history. In the decider, she battled back from a 0-2 deficit by breaking Andreescu in three of her next four service games. During the clash, Sakkari hit eight aces and 46 winners.

“It was an incredible match. I didn’t have control of the match until the middle of the second set. I felt like she was better than me, but then somehow I digged in and found a way to just turn things around,” Sakkari told reporters afterwards.
“I was more brave after a certain point of the match, then got my energy level a little bit higher.”

It is only the second time Sakkari has reached the last eight of a Grand Slam after the French Open. Prior to Andreescu, she also scored wins over Petra Kvitova, Kateřina Siniaková and Marta Kostyuk.

Reaching the quarter-finals in New York has been far from easy for the 26-year-old who admits in recent weeks she has been struggling on the Tour. Following her loss to Angelique Kerber at the Western and Southern Open less than a month ago, Sakkari said she, ‘lost her identity‘ on the court, but managed to regain it with the help of her coaches and psychologist.

After my loss with Angie, I just practiced for two weeks. I had some very tough practices where I was crying because I could not feel my shots, I could not feel my tennis. But thankfully I had Tom and Yannis, my hitting partner, that supported me a lot,” she said.
“I lost my identity. That’s how I called it. I lost myself, part of myself. With my psychologist, as well, I found a way to come back and feel again what I felt out there today.”

Sakkari praises her team for helping her to become ‘more brave’ during matches where she isn’t afraid to go for her shots on the big points. Something she believes she lost after her run to the French Open semi-finals earlier this year.

“By telling myself to be more brave, it’s not like, Maria, now be brave, and you’re brave. It’s just a process in practice and everything that has helped me to be more brave,” she said.

Awaiting Sakkari in the next round will be Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova who defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-4, in her fourth round match. They are tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head but are yet to lock horns on a hardcourt. In one of their previous matches at the Italian Open, Pliskova made headlines for smashing her racket against the umpire’s chair out of frustration.

“We practiced before the tournament started. She’s a very funny girl. We have a great relationship even though some people think that after what happened (in Rome) we don’t. Actually we do,” she commented.
“She has played the final here. She has more experience than me. But I’m just going to stick to what I’m doing best, try to return as good as I can, because that’s I think the most important thing against Karolina. Just keep fighting, that’s it. That can take you far.”

Grand Slam

(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) The Wimbledon Clash Between Djokovic And Sinner Could Have Been Better

It was an epic five-set clash but imagine how better the match would have been if both were playing well at the same time…

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Hall of Famer Steve Flink and Ubitennis’ Ubaldo Scanagatta analyse the dramatic events that unfolded on Tuesday at Wimbledon.

 

Top seed Novak Djokovic staged an epic comeback to oust Jannik Sinner in a match of two halves. Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie brought delight to the British fans.

On the other side of the draw, how will Rafael Nadal fair against the in-form Taylor Fritz? The Spaniard recently sidestepped a question about a potential new injury. 

As for the women’s draw, Ons Jabeur made history by becoming the first Arab player to reach a major quarter-final. She will next play 34-year-old mum-of-two Tatjana Maria who had never been beyond the third round of a major until now. 

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WIMBLEDON: 10 Facts About Semi-Finalist Ons Jabeur

All you need to know about the Trailblazing Tunisian who has created history at The All England Club.

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image via twitter.com/wimbledon

Second seed Ons Jabeur achieved a new milestone for both her and her country at Wimbledon on Tuesday. 

 

The world No.2 battled back from a set down to defeat Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, to reach the last four of a major event for the first time in her career. Jabeur has now dropped only one set in five matches played and is the highest ranked player remaining in the draw. Her major breakthrough comes seven years after she made her Grand Slam debut at the 2015 Australian Open. 

“I played really good from beginning of the second set, especially having a early break kind of helps me gain confidence,” said Jabeur.
“I know it wasn’t easy playing Marie. She gets all the balls and doesn’t make, to win a point, easy for me. I’m glad I stepped in with my game. I was more aggressive in the second set, and especially tactically I was playing some angles that she didn’t like much.”

To mark Jabeur’s Wimbledon milestone, here are 10 facts to know about her:-

  1. She is the first North African player – male or female – to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. The last woman from the entire African continent to reach a major semi-final was Amanda Coetzer at the 1997 French Open. 
  2. Her win over Bouzkova is Jabeur’s 26th Tour-level win on the grass.
  3. Jabeur has now won 83 matches over the past two seasons. This is more than any other player on the WTA Tour. 
  4. Has won 21 out of her last 23 matches.
  5. She is the only Tunisian woman currently ranked in the world’s top 700.
  6. Jabeur had failed to win back-to-back matches on her three out of her four previous appearances at Wimbledon in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She reached the quarter-finals in 2021.
  7. Coming into Wimbledon she has already earned more than $6.2m in prize money in her career.
  8. She has won three Tour titles in Birmingham (2021), Madrid (2022) and Berlin (2022). 
  9. Has beaten a top 10 player four times in her career – Dominika Cibulkova (2017 French Open), Simona Halep (Beijing 2018), Sloane Stephens (Moscow 2018) and Karolina Pliskova (Doha 2020).
  10. In October 2021 she became the first Arab player (mae or female) to crack the world’s top 10 in tennis. 

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Tatjana Maria – Reaching Wimbledon Semi-Finals is ‘Amazing’ But It Doesn’t Beat Parenthood

The underdog is enjoying her best-ever run at a major 15 years after making her debut.

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Image via twitter.com/wta

Germany’s Tatjana Maria reveals people once doubted her ability to return to tennis after having her first child. Now a mother-of-two, she has secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals. 

 

The fairytale run of the world No.103 continued on Tuesday when she ousted compatriot Jule Niemeier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in her quarter-final match. Until the tournament, Maria had never been beyond the third round of a major event. However, that changed with high-profile wins over Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko prior to Niemeier.

“It’s amazing. I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realize something, but it’s still hard to realize it,” she said of reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

Whilst some players prepare for their Grand Slam matches in the gym, Maria’s routine is somewhat unique. She began her day by taking her 8-year-old daughter to her tennis lesson. It wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a 15-month-old baby.

“Outside of the court, nothing changes for me for the moment,” she said.  “I try to keep this going, everything the same. We keep going (to the tennis lessons) even if I’m playing the semifinals.”

Incredibly the 34-year-old returned to the circuit following maternity leave less than a year ago. It was during that absence that she decided to switch to a one-handed backhand. She has been ranked as high as 46th in the world and has two Tour titles to her name. 

“A lot of people who never believed I would come back. This was already after Charlotte and when I changed my backhand,” she said.
“I showed it last time already that I am back. I reached the top 50 with Charlotte, and now I’m back with my second child. Still, everybody was doubting.’
“I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming.”

Relishing in her best-ever performance at a major event, Maria is another example of a player having a breakthrough later in their career. To put her run in perspective, in the Open Era only five other women have reached the semifinals at Wimbledon after turning 34.

However, in Maria’s eyes, her achievements on the court can’t beat her top priority off the court.

“To be a mum is for me on the top of my life. So I think it helps me in tennis too because now my priority is my kids,” she explains. “I play tennis, I want to do my best, that’s all that I want. But my kids are the priority.’
“If I go out there, I want my kids to be happy, that they are healthy, that everything is okay. That’s the most important thing for me in my life.”

Maria made her Grand Slam debut back at Wimbledon in 2007. 

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