No.5 seed Maria Sakkari notched a superb win over a player whom she had never beaten at the Grampians Trophy on Saturday.
The Greek star erased a hefty first-set deficit to oust No.8 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany, 6-4, 6-2 and claim her first victory over the former World No.1 in their three meetings.
"I have my Greeks here, which feels great!" Sakkari said during her post-match interview on court, thrilling her sturdy number of supporters on Margaret Court Arena. "That’s the first thing I’m looking forward to when I come to Australia, so it was great."
"Funnily enough, this is my home tournament," Sakkari added. "I don’t have a professional tournament back home, so as I mentioned, every time I come back to Australia, it feels like I'm at home."
"Funny enough this is my home tournament. Because of the Greek community it feels like home." 🇬🇷@mariasakkari spoke about the fan support she receives in Australia.#GrampiansWTA pic.twitter.com/eBuvXMTql4— wta (@WTA) February 6, 2021
Kerber picked off four of the first five games of the match before Sakkari turned the tilt around, breaking the three-time Grand Slam champion five times en route to the 73-minute victory.
Both players relied on their backhands in the early stages of the opener but it was Kerber who came out on top in close games most often as she zipped ahead 4-1.
However, once Sakkari gritted through a close game to hold for 4-2, she grabbed the momentum with both hands, winning a whopping nine games in a row to move ahead 6-4, 4-0.
Sakkari never let up and finished off the match with a forehand crosscourt winner -- her 26th winner of the day.
In a semifinal showdown, Sakkari will now face No.6 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, who advanced to the final four after No.3 seed Victoria Azarenka withdrew from their scheduled quarterfinal clash due to a lower back injury.
Former World No.1 Azarenka saved two match points before outlasting Yulia Putintseva in her first match of the season on Friday, but did not take the court against Kontaveit, sending the Estonian into her 12th career WTA semifinal.
The other semifinal will be an all-American clash between No.7 seed Jennifer Brady and Ann Li.
Brady got through a tough match against Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, 7-6(5), 6-4. Both players were stellar on serve, with Brady saving five of five break points in the one-hour and 52-minute encounter. Krejcikova was also nearly impeccable saving break points, fending off 11 of 12, but the one Brady converted made the difference and gave the American a straight-set win.
"I was pretty happy with the way I stayed pretty calm throughout that tiebreak," Brady said, after her win. "I wasn’t really focused on the score, I was kind of just taking it point by point. Really happy with the way I served today, and just kept looking for forehands and playing aggressively."
For Li, it will be a first-ever WTA singles semifinal after the 20-year-old dispatched Sorana Cirstea of Romania, 6-3, 6-1. The World No.99 needed a smidge over an hour to get the victory and post her best result to date at a WTA event.
Sunday's two semifinal showdowns will be the last matches of the Grampians Trophy. Due to the delayed schedule and the start of the Australian Open on Monday, the final of the Grampians Trophy will not be played. The semifinals will go forward as scheduled and both finalists will receive finalist points and finalist prize money.