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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday October 21, 2022

 
Maria Sakkari

Maria Sakkari delivered in the clutch on Friday night in Guadalajara, saving 14 of 15 break points to defeat Veronika Kudermetova.

Photo Source: Tennis Channel

And then there were eight…

In a winner-take-all clash for the eighth and final qualification spot at this year’s WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Maria Sakkari answered the bell with a polished and poised victory to ensure her inclusion in the field for a second consecutive year.

Tennis Express

Sakkari was resplendent on Friday night in Guadalajara, producing one of the most clutch performances of her career to defeat Veronika Kudermetova 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.

“Without fire you cannot win these matches,” said and elated Sakkari on court after her victory, which places her in the semifinals. “Without heart, without courage, without just going for it and being brave, you cannot get these opportunities and win them.”


Sakkari, who will face either Anna Kalinskaya or Maria Bouzkova for a spot in the final on Saturday, saved 14 of 15 break points in the contest, including all five she faced in the final set.

She responded brilliantly after dropping the final two games of the middle set by breaking in the first game of the third set and holding serve in her next five service games.

Sakkari was broken only once on the evening, in the 12th game of the set, as Kudermetova hit back with a late break to level the pair’s fourth career head-to-head meeting.

The line was drawn in the sand early in the decider, when Kudermetova earned four break points with Sakkari serving at 2-1.

She would fail to convert all four.

Credit the Russian, who was bidding for her 40th win of the season and a first trip to the WTA Finals, for serving effectively for the rest of the set. She dropped just five points on serve in four service games, but failed again to convert a break opportunity with Sakkari serving at 5-4, 30-40.

It would be her last opportunity of the night.

Sakkari won the final two points and celebrated with gusto as she converted her first match point to close out the contest in two hours and 35 minutes.

“My heart and my fighting spirit – these are the two things that I am most proud about,” the Greek said after the match. “My tennis is there, everyone here plays good, it’s not like someone plays better, it’s just about who is a little more clutch in the big moments.

“I felt like today I just went for it and saved those break points in the third set that were the key, probably, for the match.”


Sakkari joins a star-studded cast of eight elite players that will compete at the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, beginning October 31.

1. Iga Swiatek
2. Ons Jabeur
3. Jessica Pegula
4. Coco Gauff
5. Caroline Garcia
6. Aryna Sabalenka
7. Daria Kasatkina
8. Maria Sakkari

 

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