“Getting it Back”: Maria Sakkari Fires Warning to Naomi Osaka Ahead of Miami Open 2021 Q/F

Published 03/31/2021, 4:00 AM EDT
Tennis – Australian Open – Women’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 20, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her final match against Jennifer Brady of the U.S. REUTERS/Kelly Defina


Greek tennis star Maria Sakkari is on a mission. Not satisfied with meeting small targets and occasional scalps of fancied opponents, she wants to push herself to win more titles and not be content with playing quarters and semifinals.

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Building on the gains from the Abu Dhabi Open back in January, Sakkari has been breaking new grounds in women’s tennis with her assertive and aggressive game.

Maria Sakkari will play Naomi Osaka for a place in the Miami Open semifinals

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The 25-year-old reached the last-four in Abu Dhabi, pulling off stunning upsets over the likes of Coco Gauff, Garbine Muguruza, and Sofia Kenin. Though she lost eventually to Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka, Sakkari’s run pointed to her resolve to take the next leap of faith in the women’s game.

Currently ranked 25th in singles, the Greek atoned for her opening-round loss at this Australian Open with a quarter-final appearance at the Qatar Open. After another first-round exit in Dubai, she redeemed herself yet again by reaching the last-eight of the ongoing Miami Open.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 06: Maria Sakkari of Greece plays a backhand in her Quarter Fnal match against Angelique Kerber of Germany during day four of the WTA 500 Grampians Trophy at Melbourne Park on February 06, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

A heroic effort, which saw her come out throwing punches every time she was boxed into a corner, put her on the winning end of an intense, absorbing three-setter against 33rd-ranked American Jessica Pegula. The 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (8-6) win sealed a quarter-final date in Miami with current World Number 2 and tournament favorite Naomi Osaka, later on Wednesday.

Picking out an attribute that makes Sakkari stand out in his eyes, coach Tom Hill said “She’s never satisfied… We can finish the year at No. 20 and other people will say, ‘I broke the Top-20, that’s great. For Maria, it wasn’t good enough.” 

He added that it’s her trust in his methods and willingness to adapt to new game plans that have brought her “good success since the first lockdown”.

Sakkari says she lost her aggressive mindset after quarantining for the Australian Open

Sakkari acknowledged that two weeks of quarantine ahead of the Australian Open took a bite out of her “aggressive” mindset, which is “making a lot of balls and playing physical matches”.

However, she said that after the opening round exit in Dubai, she sat down with her coach and laid out a plan to bring back her “boring game”. “It feels now that I’m getting it back,” Sakkari said.

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That ought to serve as a warning for Osaka, the reigning Australian Open champion as she battles the Greek for a place in Miami last-four on Wednesday.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

845 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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