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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday September 8, 2021

Maria Sakkari

Maria Sakkari put forth a dominant serving performance to defeat Karolina Pliskova at the US Open.

Maria Sakkari – the Greek with the golden shoulder – put forth a phenomenal serving performance and sailed past No.4-seeded Karolina Pliskova, 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday night in New York to book her second first US Open semifinal, and second of 2020.

Tennis Express

At one point Sakkari, 26 and seeded 17, reeled off 22 consecutive points on serve, and even when she dropped a few here and there, she was still in total command of her service games and never faced a break point against Pliskova.

“I served really, really well,” Sakkari said, before referring to her on-court interview, when ESPN’s Pam Shriver informed her of how many points she won in succession on serve. “I didn't realize, but Pam said I served, I don't know how many points was it, 22 in a row? Wow, yeah. I said on court I was impressed.

“I'm very happy I managed my stress level and my expectations. Especially at the end of the match, it was quite tough to close it out, but I think I did quite well.”

Pliskova didn’t play too badly, but Sakkari’s near perfect serving made the match feel like a lopsided encounter. The Czech, a 2016 US Open runner-up, was broken just once in each set – in the third game of the opener and the seventh game of the second set – which was more than enough for Sakkari.

The first Greek woman to ever reach the semifinals of the US Open moves on to face on of the surprise stories of the tournament: Great Britain’s 18-year-old, Emma Raducanu.

When asked about the challenge of facing her in her post-match press conference, Sakkari deflected the pressure, insisting that she does not consider herself the favorite in their semifinal.

“She's a new player on tour so I don't know much about her,” she said. “Obviously she's having the tournament of her life. She deserves to be here. She has won all these matches. But I wouldn't call myself the favorite. I think we all have equal chances of winning the semifinals and then winning the title. I would give 25 percent to each starting tomorrow, then 50 percent to the two finalists.

“We are all for a reason here. We're all playing well.”

Sakkari may not be the favorite in her own mind but she admits that she is in a better place than she ever has been in her career.

“I think I'm the best age of my career,” she said. “I'm more mature than before. As I said many times, I think every single player has a different timing of breaking through. Now it's probably my time at the age of 26. I came in late in the tour. I was not a good junior. I was not a star when I was 18 or 19 years old. I had to work and sacrifice a lot from my life. But it's now paying off and I'm very happy that at the age of 26 I can actually achieve these results.”

The Greek has had to come through a veritable gauntlet to reach her second major semifinal. She defeatead No.10-seeded Petra Kvitova in the third round, No.6-seeded Bianca Andreescu in a marathon fourth-round encounter, and No.4-seeded Pliskova on Wednesday.

“I think I had one of the toughest draws,” she said. “That gives me a lot of confidence because I beat some very, very good players to reach the semifinals this time. I'm actually feeling really well. I don't want to jinx it.”


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