OSTRAVA, Czech Republic - Maria Sakkari is through to her third Premier quarterfinal of the season after toppling top seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open.
After taking down home favorite Kristyna Pliskova in her opening match, Sakkari faced her third career meeting with No.1 seed Svitolina. The Greek player honed in on the Svitolina second serve, and was rewarded with five breaks as she blasted 32 winners on her way to a 6-3, 6-3 victory.
“Obviously winning [against] a player like Elina, the way I played, I think that made me the most happy today,” Sakkari said in her post-match press conference. “I think playing like this gives me a lot of confidence. And of course, getting another Top 5 win is very important for me.”
Read more: Ostapenko zips past Martic in Ostrava opener
The win sends Sakkari through to her third quarterfinal of 2020 after putting together deep runs in St. Petersburg and the Western & Southern Open, and marks her fourth career win over a Top 5 player.
“When I was starting my career, I had people telling me that I cannot play indoors,” Sakkari recalled with a smile. “I think it was a big mistake listening to them. Now I proved myself: I have reached a semis indoors, I’ve beaten very good indoor players in St. Petersburg and here.
“I’ve developed my game in a way that I can now be dangerous indoors as well. My serve is big, and I’m playing a little bit more aggressive. So I’m super happy, I proved these people wrong.”
Sakkari showed all that newfound indoor hardcourt prowess in her second-round clash with Svitolina, racing ahead to a 3-0, double break lead. Though Svitolina’s rock solid game is usually stingy on unforced errors, today the Ukrainian misfired 22 times across both sets allowing her opponent to take control.
Svitolina fought back to grab one of the breaks and make it 3-1, keeping within touching distance of Sakkari. But the Greek player stayed aggressive and attacked the second serves, earning two more break chances at 4-3 before finally converting a third to take the set, 6-3.
The top seed turned the tables in the second set, taking advantage of a tentative service game for Sakkari to break for her first lead of the match at 2-1. But Sakkari showed her grit in a marathon fourth game, battling to deuce four times and needing three break chances to level the score at 2-2. Sakkari took control once again late in the set as she raised her level to break once again at 5-3, sealing the victory after an hour and 16 minutes.
“I think I started out really well, knew exactly what I needed to do and executed it well,” Sakkari assessed. “I mean, that’s what [my coach] Tom [Hill] really said, ‘I have nothing to say about this match’.
“Okay, maybe some moments of this match could have been better, but in general I think my serve, my returns, my groundstrokes from the baseline… even coming into the net sometimes was quite successful.”
In the quarterfinal, Sakkari will await the winner between Ons Jabeur or wildcard Jelana Ostapenko. The former French Open champion made quick work of No.5 seed Petra Martic, 6-3, 6-1 earlier in the day to advance.