Since winning her first Hologic WTA Tour singles title at Rabat in May of 2019, Maria Sakkari lost her next six finals. But after a magnificent week in Guadalajara, the Greek is a champion on tour once again.
No.2 seed Sakkari ended the Cinderella run of 111th-ranked Caroline Dolehide of the United States in the Guadalajara Open AKRON final on Saturday night, posting a 7-5, 6-3 victory and capturing her second career title after a four-year drought.
The victor speaks: "It’s amazing, I’m speechless," Sakkari said, after her win. "It’s been four-and-a-half years since I won my first title, and I just finally won my second one. All these thoughts that I’ve been having all this time were very tough to overcome, and I’m just very proud of myself that I did it this week.
"I feel like I haven’t really realized what I did this week, and it’s going to take a little bit of time. But at the same time, I just want to really enjoy the moment today and tomorrow, and just keep working hard, because I’m sure that more are going to come in the future."
1 - With tournament victory in Guadalajara, Maria Sakkari has claimed her first WTA 1000 event win. Sakkari is now only the second Greek player in the Open Era to win a WTA event on hard court, after Eleni Daniilidou. Big.#GDLOpenAKRON | @WTAGuadalajara @WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/eKLraRGhNK— OptaAce (@OptaAce) September 24, 2023
A number of firsts: The highest-ranked Greek female tennis player in history, former World No.3 Sakkari becomes the first from her country to hoist a WTA 1000 trophy, going one step further than her runner-up finish to Jessica Pegula in Guadalajara last year.
With her fifth straight-sets win of the week, Sakkari is the first player this season to win a WTA 1000 event in 2023 without dropping a set. She is the first to win a WTA 1000 hard-court title without the loss of a set since Iga Swiatek did so at Miami in March of 2022.
Sakkari is projected to rise from World No.9 to No.6 in Monday’s updated singles rankings. She also keeps herself very much in contention for one of the remaining four singles spots at this year’s WTA Finals in Cancun.
As for Dolehide, the week was still a breakthrough performance for the 25-year-old, who reached her first-ever WTA singles final and is projected to skyrocket into the Top 50 for the first time. Nevertheless, Dolehide falls to 0-5 against Top 10 players in her career.
Match moments: In Saturday’s final, Sakkari used an error-forcing crosscourt backhand to move ahead by a break at 2-1 in the first set, but massive returning by Dolehide led to a love break and parity at 4-4.
However, at 5-5, Sakkari followed up a drop shot with a deft lob winner to reach triple break point, and Dolehide eventually ceded the break back with her second double fault of that game. Sakkari converted her first set point after a netted backhand by Dolehide.
Sakkari again garnered an early break in the second set, and she would not give up that lead this time around. Sakkari slammed her third ace of the match to hold for 5-3, and she quickly broke Dolehide in the following game to clinch the trophy after 1 hour and 43 minutes of play.
Sakkari wrapped up the match with 19 winners to Dolehide's eight. The Greek converted four of 11 break points to clinch the trophy.
Top seeds take doubles title: No.1 seeds Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens won the Guadalajara Open AKRON doubles title earlier on Saturday, edging past No.3 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe 3-6, 6-2, [10-4] in the final.
Hunter and Mertens took 1 hour and 24 minutes to prevail, ending the eight-match winning streak of recent US Open champions Dabrowski and Routliffe.
Hunter and Mertens came back from a set down to sweep through the second set and queue up the match-tiebreak. An overhead winner by Hunter got the pair off to a 4-1 lead in the breaker, and they eased to championship point at 9-4 after an unreturned serve by Mertens.
On the first championship point, a lob by Mertens forced a long error by Routliffe, giving the top seeds the victory.
Australia's Hunter successfully defended her Guadalajara title, having also won the crown last year alongside Luisa Stefani. Overall, this is Hunter's seventh career WTA doubles title. Former Doubles World No.1 Mertens has now amassed 18 doubles titles in her career.