No.2 seed Maria Sakkari took revenge on No.6 seed Daria Kasatkina in the bett1open quarterfinals, triumphing 6-0, 6-3 in just 72 minutes.
Sakkari had not beaten Kasatkina in four previous encounters, including a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 loss in the second round of Madrid last month. However, the pair had never played on grass before, and the 26-year-old used the slick surface to her advantage to enhance her aggressive strategy.
Seeking to take control of each rally as soon as possible, Sakkari was quick to sense any opportunity to finish points with her forehand or at the net. Consequently, she tallied 27 winners to only seven for Kasatkina, while also keeping her unforced error count down to 16 compared to Kasatkina's 11.
Appropriately, the result puts the Greek into her first career semifinal on grass. It is also her fourth Hologic WTA Tour semifinal of 2022 and first since her run to the Indian Wells final in March.
Match management: Fourteen of Sakkari's winners came during a near-flawless opening set. She saved both of the break points she faced and prevented Kasatkina from even reaching game point to hold any of her service games.
The No.12-ranked Kasatkina belatedly found her own aggressive forehand in the second set, and twice battled to level the score from a break down. But with the set poised at 3-3, Sakkari held firm. Finding her biggest returns when she needed them, Sakkari came through four deuces to break again for 4-3.
It was a similar story as Kasatkina served to stay in the match. The Roland Garros semifinalist's delivery faltered again, with two double faults in this game bringing her total to five. The last of those brought up a third match point for Sakkari, converted as a deep return elicited a forehand error from Kasatkina.
In Sakkari's words: "The first set was close to perfect. I was very disciplined with my shot selection, with my game in general. I always struggled to play against her, obviously, but today I was very decisive. I had made up my mind what to do and I just went for it.
"Grass court fits my game -- of course, because I improved my serve, but I'm a very good mover and that plays a huge role on this surface."
Bencic awaits: In the semifinals, Sakkari will take on No.8 seed Belinda Bencic, who overcame Veronika Kudermetova 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 after 2 hours and 15 minutes of play.
Sakkari won her only previous professional meeting against Bencic in three sets, which came on the indoor hard courts of St. Petersburg in 2020.
Bencic, last year's bett1open runner-up, lost to Kudermetova just last week in the 's-Hertogenbosch quarterfinals. But Bencic avenged that defeat on Friday to claim a narrow 5-4 lead in her head-to-head with Kudermetova.
3️⃣elinda 3️⃣encic!— wta (@WTA) June 17, 2022
Notching her third three-set win in a row, 🇨🇭 @BelindaBencic overcomes Kudermetova 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Through to face Sakkari for a place in the Berlin final 👊 pic.twitter.com/bBmYlCTBGN
Last year's Olympic champion Bencic converted six of her 11 break points to hold off Kudermetova, despite hitting seven double faults. Bencic also withstood six aces from Kudermetova.
After splitting the first two sets, Bencic controlled the decider up to 5-2, but she failed to convert two match points on her serve in that game. Kudermetova held two game points at 5-3 to pull within one break, but Bencic eventually prevailed on her fourth match point to seal victory.