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After losing her last three Grand Slam first-round matches, Maria Sakkari is hoping to see a shift in her fortunes in 2024 – in more ways than one.

Tennis Express

The Greek, who snapped that streak when she defeated Nao Hibino, 6-4, 6-1 on Day 1 at the Australian Open, has taken the plunge and changed racquets this season. Sakkari now plays with the Wilson Shift, and she believes the new frame is helping her get more out of her forehand.

“It's been a while since I wanted to change racquets,” Sakkari admitted on Sunday in Melbourne. “I spoke to Wilson, and I think we came up with a great plan and great racquet for myself and for my game. It's been the perfect racquet for my game. I still get the spin, but I get a lot of power and control at the same time."

Sakkari said her team wasn’t sure that she should rock the boat after having so much success with her other racquet, for so long, but the Greek believed it was the right call.

“It was a big step,” she said. “People around me were a little bit hesitant, but they could see that I was telling them that I know there's a racquet out there that is better for my game.”

So many players have horror stories about changing racquets and never finding a comfort level with the new stick. Some do it for lucrative sponsorships, others just seek change. Sakkari, no stranger to long hours on the court, spent countless hours with her new racquet to develop a high level of comfort.

“I just spent more than four hours on the court and more than two hours in the gym, so it was more than six hours every day of training for three weeks,” she said. “Obviously I did some double sessions of fitness the week before, and the closer it came to the tournament, my time on the court went down.

“But, yeah, it's been I think the best preseason I've ever had in my career.”

The racquet isn’t the only change that Sakkari has made. She has also added Sports Psychologist Ben Crowe to her team. The Greek didn’t want to go in-depth about Crowe, who was a former mindset coach for Aussie legend Ash Barty.

“I just don't really want to talk about it. I like to keep those things secretly,” she said.

No.8-seeded Sakkari will take on Russia’s Elina Avanesyan in the second round.