Maria Sakkari gritted through lengthy obstacles, both on and off the court, before she claimed her spot in the WTA 1000 Guadalajara Open Akron final.
The No.4 seed Sakkari of Greece defeated unseeded Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-4 in their semifinal showdown. However, despite the innocuous-looking score line, it took Sakkari a long time to make it through.
With storm clouds gathering on Saturday night, Sakkari was tested from the start. Sakkari had to battle through a 16-minute opening game, saving five break points and surviving nine deuces, before she could even get on the scoreboard at 1-0.
Sakkari then had seven set points in another protracted game at 5-4 -- and Bouzkova fended off each and every one. Sakkari finally converted her eighth set point at 6-5, at last taking the first set after 83 minutes of play.
Immediately after that triumph, the rain came. After a couple attempts to dry the court and restart play, the remainder of the match was postponed to Sunday.
After the overnight delay, Sakkari let a 4-1 second-set lead slide back to 4-4, where she faced three break points to fall behind. Sakkari, though, continued to be exceptional saving break points this week, and she held on for 5-4 before breaking Bouzkova for the win.
Sakkari will now come back in a matter of hours to face No.3 seed Jessica Pegula in the final. Both players are seeking their first WTA 1000 title, their first title of the season, and the second Hologic WTA Tour singles title of their careers.
Sakkari leads the head-to-head with Pegula 3-1.
More to come ...