No.2 seed Maria Sakkari eased past No.3 seed Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-0 to book her spot in the final of the Guadalajara Open AKRON.
On Saturday, Sakkari will face Caroline Dolehide for the title. The winner will take home the biggest title of her career. Sakkari will return to World No.6 on Monday by making the final.
"I said it the first day that I felt like this was the week," Sakkari said, "this is the place where I was going to overcome a lot of difficult obstacles and difficult emotions.
"I don't want to go back to the US Open because that's passed, but I'm just so happy to be back in the final and to get to stay until the end of the tournament. I couldn't have asked for anything better this year."
Last year, Sakkari battled her way into the Guadalajara final off a series of pressure-packed three-set wins. This year, the Greek star moved through the draw without incident. The World No.9 has not lost a set all week and is now a win away from capturing her first title in four years. Her last win came at 2019 Rabat.
Sakkari had won just one of the four prior meetings against Garcia. That win came earlier this year in Doha, where Sakkari edged the Frenchwoman 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(5).
"The last match we played was one of the toughest matches in my career," Sakkari said. "My goal today was to smile, to enjoy, to come out here and have fun. Because those are the emotions that I haven't felt in a while. I kept telling myself if you don't feel it here, in this amazing stadium, where are you going to feel it?
"So mission complete, but we have one more to go. I'm going to have the same goal tomorrow. I'm going to come out here with a smile and enjoy my last day in Guadalajara for this season."
7 - Maria Sakkari finished with only seven unforced errors in victory over Caroline Garcia in Guadalajara. Excluding the United Cup, they the fewest Sakkari has managed in a WTA Tour match in 2023. Zone.#GDLOpenAKRON | @WTAGuadalajara @WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/KfNkDgHIoW— OptaAce (@OptaAce) September 23, 2023
On Friday night, Sakkari ensured a smoother win by taking control early. Sakkari hit just three unforced errors in the first set, diffusing Garcia's aggressive game. After breaking Garcia for a 3-1 lead, Sakkari lost just two points behind her serve for the rest of the set.
Sakkari continued to suffocate Garcia in the second set. She refused to allow Garcia to close out a 40-15 lead in her opening service game, breaking for an immediate advantage. Garcia's best chance to get back in the match came with Sakkari serving at 3-0.
Garcia earned three break-point chances in the longest game of the match, but Sakkari fended her off to extend her lead and eventually close out her dominant performance. She finished with a near-perfect stat line, hitting eight winners to seven unforced errors, while saving all four break points she faced.
Garcia hit 11 winners to 20 unforced errors. The loss drops her to 0-3 against Top 10 opposition this season.