Editor's note: From Monday to Thursday this week, we will look at the road each of the eight singles players and eight doubles took to qualify for this year's WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.
Season at a glance
Maria Sakkari qualified for her second straight WTA Finals off an emotional rollercoaster 2022 campaign. In a season that saw her continue to reach new career milestones, the Greek star also faced down a tough mid-season stretch and ultimately sealed her spot in Texas in a one-match playoff in the last tournament of the season.
Coming off her career-best season in 2021, Sakkari came out strong at the start of the year. After a second Round of 16 showing at the Australian Open, she proceeded to go 12-3 over her next three tournaments, making the final in St. Petersburg, semifinals in Doha and her first WTA 1000-level final at Indian Wells.
Sakkari's Indian Wells run was ended by Iga Swiatek in the final, but she would leave California at a career-high No.3, matching Stefanos Tsitsipas as the highest-ranked Greek player on the ATP or WTA Tours.
"When I think about it, I can't believe there's only two girls above me right now," Sakkari said after Indian Wells. "Whoever followed my steps last couple of years, they know what that means to me.
"I'm very proud that myself and Stefanos have actually grown tennis in Greece. Having two players in that ranking position is something huge for us."
- Reached career-high ranking at No.3 in March
- Four finals, including two WTA 1000-level at Indian Wells and Guadalajara
- Semifinals or better at three of her first five tournaments of the season
- Made first grass-court semifinal of her career in Berlin
- One of only three players who began the year in the Top 10 and not drop out
Having reached such heights in March, Sakkari struggled to match her season-starting form, going 5-5 during the clay season. But Sakkari began to find her equilibrium on the grass, highlighted by a semifinal run in Berlin. By the time the summer hard courts came back around, Sakkari had come around mentally and was playing more positive tennis. It was just a matter of stringing together the wins.
Those wins came just in time. Heading into the final tournament of the season, Sakkari was on the outside looking in at qualifying for the WTA Finals. She came through in a trio of must-win matches to seal the deal, ultimately beating Veronika Kudermetova in three tough sets to book her ticket to Texas.
"I think it's a lot tougher to do it twice in a row than just do it once," Sakkari said. "That's what I'm mostly proud about.
"As bad as my season was after Indian Wells, I still gave myself this chance to finish the year strong. I think that's the best gift I can give to myself, just making it to Fort Worth. I'm really looking forward for that two-week period there."