Maria Sakkari reveals biggest key to victory over Aryna Sabalenka

World No 5 Maria Sakkari said she would have probably easily lost if she wasn’t aggressive right from the start against Aryna Sabalenka. Sakkari, 27, came out firing in her second group match at the WTA Finals as she ousted Sabalenka 6-2 6-4.

“If you’re not aggressive on this court, then it’s just game over. If I was passive, especially against [Sabalenka], the biggest hitter on the tour, then it’s just bye-bye. I just went for it. If I’m not going to go for it here, when am I going to do it?” Sakkari said after the match, per the WTA website.

Two days earlier, Sakkari defeated Jessica Pegula for her first top-5 win of the season. After beating Sabalenka and clinching a semifinal ticket, Sakkari admitted it feels good to be again playing well against top players.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had straight-sets wins against these players, so it feels very new again for me. Being able to win [against] these players in straight sets, it’s impressive, and it’s finally paying off,” Sakkari added.

How Sakkari defeated Sabalenka?

Sakkari came out strong against Sabalenka, breaking the Belarusian in the third and seventh games to easily win the first set. After winning the first set, Sakkari started the second set with back-to-back breaks and a 3-0 lead.

Down by a set and two breaks, Sabalenka refused to give up as she responded with back-to-back breaks to win four games in a row and take a 4-3 lead in the second set. Just when it seemed that the momentum shifted on Sabalenka’s way, Sakkari won the next three games and completed a straight-set win.

Sakkari plays Ons Jabeur in her final group stage match. “I’m very motivated to play [Jabeur] again. She’s in top form. I’m going to take this match the same way I did the last two, and just try and get another good win, because I think that’s going to help me not only for the semifinal, but also next season,” Sakkari said of playing Jabeur.

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