RABAT, Morocco - No.6 seed Maria Sakkari lifted her first WTA trophy in style at the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Morocco, coming back from a set down against Johanna Konta in the final to triumph 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.
The Greek star came into the championship clash on a tear, claiming big victories over top seed and defending champion Elise Mertens and No.8 seed Alison Van Uytvanck along the way. As a result she powered her way into her second career WTA final, after reaching this stage at San Jose last year.
But while Sakkari had yet to drop a set all week long, up against British No.1 Konta, she was made to work for it as Konta surged ahead to claim the opening tilt in comfortable fashion.
Konta didn’t face a break point all set long as she piled the pressure on the Greek player, dictating play with her groundstrokes and keeping Sakkari on the back foot. The Brit was on a tear from the start, breaking at 2-1 and turning that advantage into a spate of five games in a row to put her ahead 5-1. Although Sakkari managed to stop the rot with a hold of her own, it wasn’t enough to delay Konta as she raced ahead to take the set.
Despite noticeably raising her level, Sakkari was still struggling to find any inroads into the Konta serve heading into the second set. While the players stayed toe-to-toe for much of the opening exchanges, it was Konta who once again claimed the first break at 3-2.
Sakkari finally fought her way to her first break points, and edged past a marathon eight and a half-minute game to bring them level at 4-4. That was the breakthrough the Greek player needed, and Sakkari reeled off the next two games to snatch away the second set.
With the momentum firmly on her side, Sakkari sailed ahead in the final set. She covered the whole court and applied the pressure on Konta, and was rewarded with an early break at 3-1. Sakkari took that lead and ran with it, reeling off the next three games in a row before collapsing to the ground in joy, claiming her first title after an hour and 56-minute battle.
While, Sakkari is guaranteed to surge into the WTA’s Top 50 when the new rankings are released on Monday, No.7 seed Konta has positive takeaways from this week as well. It’s Konta’s first final since last year’s Nottingham, and her four victories this week are still the first time Konta has claimed more than two WTA main draw wins in a row on clay in her career.
More to follow...