It seemed as though Maria Sakkari was on course for a fourth straight loss to Shelby Rogers on Friday at the BNP Paribas Open.
After 2 hours and 4 minutes, though, Sakkari, No.7 seed and last year's finalist, came from behind to hold off the unseeded Rogers 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 inside Stadium 1 in the second round at the year's second WTA 1000 event.
8 straight games 👊@mariasakkari moves past Rogers in three!#TennisParadise pic.twitter.com/3zqC7HYtL8— wta (@WTA) March 11, 2023
Turning point: Sakkari trailed by a set and a break at 6-2, 2-1 and later saved seven break points en route to winning a second set, which was interrupted briefly by rain. She denied Rogers four chances in a seven-deuce game at 2-2 and held from 0-40 at 4-4.
Sakkari won the last nine points of the second set and eight games of the match.
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Rogers called for medical treatment on her right calf trailing 3-0 in the decider and won just one point in the last three games.
After the match, Sakkari was pleased with her fighting qualities, even if her level was "nowhere near" where she thought it needed to be.
"This stadium is my favorite, the atmosphere, everything is amazing," she said on court. "I know I put myself in trouble sometimes, but this is how I learn, how I get better. My level is nowhere near where I want it to be, but I'm OK with that and I'm going to work on it every single day in this tournament, and coming back in this match was very important."
Nexy up: In the third round, Sakkari will face another player who escaped with a comeback in Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina.
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No. 27 seed Kalinina trailed Czech teenager Linda Fruhvirtova 5-2 in the third set but saved match point in an eventual 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory.
Kalinina beat Sakkari on grass in their only previous meeting, in Eastbourne last year. For Sakkari, it will be an opportunity to improve in more ways than one.
"I know that I play my best tennis," Sakkari said, "when I make a lot of balls, when I'm rock solid from the baseline, when I'm moving extremely well, when my serve is there, and I think that's what I did at the end of the second set and in the third set.
"I'm just very happy that I managed to turn things around, because it's a very important win for me. There's a lot of pressure coming into this tournament, but I want to stay here as long as I can until the end."