Maria Sakkari was so starved for competition during the tour's five-month shutdown that nearly turned to a temporary switch of sports.

The 25-year-old says she had a contingency plan in place had the remainder of the 2020 season been canceled.

"If the tour was canceled I was going to compete in the 100-meter track and field event at the National Championships," Sakkari told reporters at All Access Hour ahead of the Palermo Ladies Open, the first WTA event since the tour shut down in March due to COVID-19.

"Greece National Championships starts on August 8th. We were kind of joking with my fitness coach, but inside of me I really needed competition. There were rumors going around that the tour would get canceled so I thought if the tour gets canceled I need to find something.

"I'm fast. I knew I was not going to win it for sure because I'm not a professional. But yeah, I was thinking of doing that."

"[I can run a] 12.7 without spikes or starting blocks. My fitness coach, who is a track and field specialist, said that if I trained I could probably make the final."

Maria Sakkari talks to reporters at All Access Hour at the 2020 Palermo Ladies Open.

Photo by Jimmie48

Aside from the need to quench her competitive thirst, what compelled Sakkari to consider a temporary switch to sprints? After returning to Athens at the start of the shutdown, Sakkari spent most of her fitness workouts outdoors and on the track.

"I started playing tennis on May 4th, but before that, I was working with my fitness coach at outdoor areas where we were allowed to work out," Sakkari said. "I was running a lot. I think I was running more than I ever did."

The World No.20 will be looking to recapture the form that clicked into place at the start of the season. Sakkari made her first Round of 16 at the Australian Open (l. Kvitova) and followed that up with a run to the semifinals of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy (l. Rybakina). While she enjoyed her extended time at home, Sakkari is champing at the bit to get back to business.

"Once Indian Wells and Miami were canceled I went back to Athens," Sakkari said. "I stayed at home with my siblings for two weeks away from my parents, because we all came from abroad so we wanted to be careful even though we had no symptoms. None of my family got the virus. We were very aware of it and Greece did pretty good. I'm proud of my country.

"I haven't been home for five months since I was maybe 12. It was really nice. After a while I wanted to get back to traveling and action, but I really enjoyed my time at home. Saw my friends, had some weeks off, really enjoyed the time with my family. Went to an island for a week, which was nice. I got to spend time with my people. But I missed tennis."

"The only person I saw earlier this month was Donna [Vekic]. We saw each other in Monaco. But with the other girls, we're not hugging. We're just fist-bumping. It's strange. We are used to seeing each other every week and we haven't seen each other for five months."

The No.3 seed kicks off her Palermo campaign on Monday night against the Czech Republic's Kristyna Pliskova. 

"We're back in competition so I'm blessed," Sakkari said. "Blessed to be back."

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