SAN JOSE, CA, USA - No.7 seed Maria Sakkari pulled off an incredible comeback against top seed Elina Svitolina to become the second semifinalist at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.
Trailing 6-1, 5-2, Sakkari saved three match points to force a decider, and later came from a break down to seal an improbable 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 comeback over the top seed in the last eight.
After losing serve five times in her first eight service games, the 2018 finalist kept her bid to reach another at the Premier-level eventually becoming the 32nd player to win a match from match points down this season.
"I was one step away from losing," Sakkari said after the match. "I'm very excited that I managed to turn the score around and be back in the semifinal here in San Jose. I have great memories from last year, so it's super nice to be back."
Sakkari got the match back on serve in a titantic, seven-deuce ninth game of the second set, where she saved three match points and ultimately broke Svitolina for the second time in the match - and first in the set - on her fifth break point.
The Greek No.1 held to level the set at 5-5, before breaking Svitolina to love to win a fourth straight game, but it seemed that the Ukrainian would steady herself just in time as she responded with a love break of her own to force a tiebreak.
"I didn't remember that it was three [match points] - I thought it was two," she added with a laugh.
"My coach came in and he said, if you did it once in Rabat [where she beat Johanna Konta from a set and a break down in the final], you can do it again."
Undaunted, however, Sakkari won all four points that Svitolina served in the tiebreak, and never trailed in it, as she won four straight points to extend the match.
In the final set, the World No.30 was forced to rally again as she dropped serve in the first game, but never trailed again as she broke Svitolina back immediately.
The Greek No.1 quickly moved into the ascendency in the final set, and won five of the last seven games from then on, with the deciding break coming in another long game: a five-deuce battle that saw Sakkari eventually break through for a 4-2 lead on her fourth chance in the game.
Sakkari advances to take on the winner over the match between No.4 seed Amanda Anisimova and unseeded Zheng Saisai for a place in her second final of the season.