Johanna Konta vs. Maria Sakkari, CincyTennis QF Preview

?? Western & Southern Open – QF Preview + Prediction:
?? (8) Johanna Konta vs. ?? (13) Maria Sakkari

The fourth and final quarter-final of the day at the Western & Southern Open sees the 8th seeded Johanna Konta take on the 13th seeded Maria Sakkari In New York.

Johanna Konta received a bye through round one before storming through her first couple of matches at Flushing Meadows. Konta started the event with a 6-2 6-0 win over Kristen Flipkens before defeating Vera Zvonareva 6-4 6-2. An important couple of wins for Konta given she lost to Maria Bouzkova in straight sets in her return event in Lexington a few weeks ago.

Maria Sakkari also claimed a pair of straight set wins in her first few matches of the event. Sakkari defeated Cori Gauff 6-1 6-3 before defeating Yulia Putintseva 6-4 7-6. Sakkari’s biggest win came in the third round as she defeated Serena Williams 5-7 7-6 6-1 in what was a strange match. Sakkari was down and out on a few occasions in the second set but managed to stick around and snatch the second set. Sakkari didn’t need to do much in the third set as Williams imploded on the other side of the net.

Konta holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Sakkari. The most recent meeting between the pair took place on grass in Eastbourne last year, Konta won that match 6-4 7-6. Sakkari’s only previous victory over the Brit was on clay in the Rabat final last year, a 2-6 6-4 6-1 victory.

This is a tough match to call, probably the most evenly matched quarter-final of the day. I’m going to give the slight edge to Sakkari. It’s hard to read much into Konta’s victories this week, she was never really tested, Sakkari will test the Brit. Sakkari has come through some tough situations on a few occasions this week and that could give her the edge in what should be a close match. Sakkari showed against Williams that she can live with power from the other side of the net and then attack when she has the chance, a similar approach will be needed to get the win here.

Prediction: Maria Sakkari to defeat Johanna Konta in 3 sets

Serena Williams vs. Maria Sakkari, CincyTennis R3 Preview

?? Western & Southern Open – R3 Preview + Prediction:
?? (3) Serena Williams vs. ?? (13) Maria Sakkari

Serena Williams continues her US Open preparations on Tuesday evening with a third round clash against the 13th seeded Maria Sakkari at the Western & Southern Open in New York. Williams is coming off a marathon victory in her first outing of the tournament and is potentially vulnerable heading into this clash against a player that’s been in great form this week. Can Sakkari pull off the upset?

Maria Sakkari has picked up a pair of straight set victories to reach the third round at Flushing Meadows. The 25-year-old started the week with an impressive 6-1 6-3 thrashing of the much-hyped Cori Gauff. Sakkari was forced to work much harder for her second round victory and did well to overcome Yulia Putintseva 6-4 7-6. Sakkari saved a pair of set points in an epic second set tiebreak which she eventually won 11-9 to secure a hard-fought win over the Kazakh.

Serena Williams is making a habit of getting herself into lengthy battles against opponents she would expect to beat comfortably. All 3 of Serena’s matches went the distance in her first tournament back at the Top Seed Open in Lexington. The 23-time Grand Slam champion made a similarly unconvincing start to her Western & Southern Open campaign, a 7-6 3-6 7-6 win over Arantxa Rus in a match that last just over 3 hours. Williams will have a little over 24 hours to recover for her clash against Sakkari, a potentially problematic scenario for the 38-year-old.

The only previous meeting between the pair took place at the Hopman Cup in 2018, Williams won that match 7-6 6-2.

I’m going to side with Sakkari here. The biggest factor heading into this match is the limited rest Williams has coming off a gruelling 3-hour match in extreme heat. Williams herself admitted she struggled physically during that match, the American will be made to work for every point against Sakkari, so she will need to recover quickly. Conversely, Sakkari comes into this match full of confidence after a pair of straight set wins over tough opponents and will be very keen to claim a victory over such an icon of the game. Sakkari is the type of opponent Williams has struggled with over the last few years, a counter-puncher with weapons. If Sakkari can make this a physical battle, she is likely to come out on top, especially with Williams having one eye on the US Open next week. 

Prediction: Maria Sakkari to defeat Serena Williams in 3 sets

Maria Sakkari vs. Kristyna Pliskova, Palermo R1 Preview

??☀️ Palermo Ladies Open – R1 Preview + Prediction
?? (3) Maria Sakkari vs. ?? Kristyna Pliskova

The third seeded Maria Sakkari begins her 2020 Palermo Ladies Open campaign against the big serving Kristyna Pliskova.

Maria Sakkari of Greece during practice at the 2020 Palermo Ladies Open WTA International tennis tournament

Sakkari stands out as the one of the main challengers to win the title in Palermo but will potentially have to overcome some rust in her game given she hasn’t played a competitive match in over 4 months. Pliskova on the other hand has competed in several exhibition events in the Czech Republic during the official tour’s shutdown. Pliskova’s results during those events were generally unremarkable as she won just 50% of her matches and she is never very comfortable on clay.

Sakkari triumphed in the only previous meeting between the pair, a 6/7 6/4 6/4 victory for the Greek player at Wimbledon in 2017, a notable victory for Sakkari on a surface that should favour Pliskova,

This is a match-up that will generally suit Sakkari, especially on a clay court. Once Sakkari can neutralize the Pliskova serve she will have a distinct advantage from the baseline thanks to her far superior stamina and consistency. Sakkari should get into enough rallies to advance to the second round without too many issues.

Prediction: Maria Sakkari to defeat Kristina Pliskova in 2 sets

Aryna Sabalenka vs. Maria Sakkari, Dubai R1 Preview

?? Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, R1 Preview
?? (7) Aryna Sabalenka vs. ?? Maria Sakkari

Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari will renew hostilities when they go head-to-head at the opening round stage at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday. Sabalenka has made a modest start to the season whilst Sakkari is building in confidence after a couple of successful tournaments. Except a very competitive contest here with the head-to-head record between the pair split at 1-1.

Sabalenka will be back in action for the first time since a disappointing opening round exit at the Australian Open. Sabalenka was in good shape heading into Melbourne after reaching the semi-finals in Adelaide. However, things quickly unravelled in Melbourne where the Belarusian was beaten by Carla Suarez Navarro in a couple of tight sets. It will be interesting to see what type of level Sabalenka can bring in her Dubai opener given she hasn’t played in almost a month.

Maria Sakkari arrives in Dubai in good form. Sakkari arrives fresh from a semi-final showing in St. Petersburg where she upset the top seeded Belinda Bencic in the quarter-finals before succumbing to Elena Rybakina in 3 sets. Prior to St. Petersburg, Sakkari reached the fourth round in Melbourne, her best run at a major.

Sabalenka and Sakkari have split their two previous meetings with a win apiece, both in 2019. It was Sakkari who emerged victorious in their first contest, a 6-7 6-4 6-4 victory in Cincinnati. Most recently, Sabalenka claimed a 6-3 6-4 win in Zhuhai.

I’m going to side with Sakkari here. It is Sakkari is match-hardened heading into this contest having just reached the semi-finals in St. Petersburg. Conversely, Sabalenka hasn’t played a singles match for a month, that has to give the edge to the Green number 1. Furthermore, I think this is a troublesome match-up for Sabalenka, especially when she isn’t at her best, which is likely to be the case here. Sakkari will apply relentless pressure to Sabalenka, forcing the Belarusian into extended rallies where Sabalenka is likely to buckle under the pressure.

Prediction: Maria Sakkari to defeat Aryna Sabalenka in 3 sets
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Petra Kvitova vs. Maria Sakkari, Australian Open R4 Preview

?? Australian Open, R4 preview + prediction:
?? (7) Petra Kvitova vs. ?? (22) Maria Sakkari

Petra Kvitova continues her quest for a maiden Australian Open title on Sunday with a tricky clash against the 22nd seeded Maria Sakkari. Kvitova has stormed through the draw in an ominous fashion for her rivals. However, Sakkari will come into this match with confidence given her positive recent record over the 2-time former Wimbledon champion.

Petra Kvitova was rarely troubled in her progress through the opening week of the tournament. Kvitova started the event with a 6/1 6/0 pounding of Katerina Siniakova which actually left Siniakova in tears. It was in the second round that Kvitova faced some challenging moments but pulled through to defeat Paula Badosa 7/5 7/5. The 7th seed played another near-perfect match to book her spot in the round of 16 with a 6/1 6/2 win over Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Maria Sakkari has also navigated her way through the opening week without dropping a single set to reach the round of 16 for the first time at a major. Sakkari easily defeated Margarita Gasparyan 6/2 6/2 in the opening round before battling past Nao Hibino 7/6 6/4. Sakkari made her biggest move in the third round where she upset the 10th seeded Madison Keys 6/4 6/4. Sakkari is enjoying strong support from the large Greek community in Melbourne.

It was Maria Sakkari who won the most recent match between the pair. The Greek player claimed a hard-fought 6/4 2/6 6/3 victory over Kvitova in Cincinnati last year. Sakkari also defeated Kvitova in Rome earlier in 2019, via retirement with Kvitova retiring down 0/4 in the deciding set. Their other completed match also took place last year with Kvitova winning 6/1 6/4 in Miami.

I’m going to side with Kvitova here. Once Kvitova gets into a major tournament she becomes tougher and tougher to beat. Sakkari is the type of player that can only beat Kvitova if the Czech player has a bad day, I don’t see that happening here. Kvitova has already played a couple of ruthless matches in Melbourne and should be too strong for Sakkari on this surface. Kvitova has looked very sharp and focused and will know that she has a great opportunity to go all the way in Melbourne given the state of the draw.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Maria Sakkari in 2 sets
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Ashleigh Barty vs. Maria Sakkari, Australian Open R3 Preview

Australian Open, R3 Preview
?? (15) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? Maria Sakkari

Ash Barty is likely to face her first real test of the tournament when she takes on Maria Sakkari at the third round stage of the Australian Open on Friday. Barty has cruised through her first few matches over inferior opponents that never really posed her much threat, that will not be the case against Sakkari, the Greek number 1 seemingly has weapons that can trouble Barty.

Maria Sakkari of Greece in action during her second-round match at the 2019 Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament

Barty has made a very strong start to the Aussie summer, Barty arrived in Melbourne fresh off a great week in Sydney where she narrowly lost the final to Petra Kvitova. Barty has quickly found her range in Melbourne as she claimed straight set wins over Luksika Kumkhum and Yafan Wang with little fuss. Barty’s Versatility and power is a unique combination, a combination which many are tipping to take her deep into the tournament.

Maria Sakkari has also made a good start to the season and has made a good start to her Australian Open campaign. Sakkari started the week with a 6-1 3-6 6-2 win over the 22nd seeded Jelena Ostapenko before battling past Astra Sharma 6-1 6-4. Sakkari will be looking to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time with a win over Barty having previously reached the third round at every Grand Slam.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. It was Sakkari who won the most recent match between the two, a 6-4 6-2 win at Indian Wells last year.

Can Sakkari spoil the occasion for the Australian number 1?

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Jelena Ostapenko vs. Maria Sakkari, Australian Open R1 Preview

?? Australian Open, R1 Preview
?? (22) Jelena Ostapenko vs. ?? Maria Sakkari

One of the toughest opening round match-ups at Melbourne Park on Monday sees the 22nd seeded Jelena Ostapenko take on Maria Sakkari, the Greek rising star. Ostapenko arrives at Melbourne Park in a slump, the Latvian has lost her first two matches of the season and will need a dramatic improvement if she is to get through this tough opening round match-up.

Maria Sakkari of Greece practices ahead of the 2019 Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament

Jelena Ostapenko is a shadow of the player that stormed to the Roland Garros title in 2017. Ostapenko started her 2019 campaign with an embarrassing opening round loss to Monica Niculescu in Shenzhen where she won just 2 games. More recently Ostapenko played n Sydney where she produced a more respectable level but was still beaten by Ashleigh Barty in straight sets.

Maria Sakkari has made a more impressive start to her 2019 campaign. Sakkari started the season at the Hopman Cup where she went 2 from 3 in her singles matches, Sakkari defeated Katie Boulter and Belinda Bencic in straight sets whilst succumbing to Serena Williams in a competitive straight set loss. Sakkari did however suffer an opening round loss to Magda Linette in Hobart last week, perhaps it was for the best.

The only previous match between the pair took place in Charleston in 2017, Ostapenko won that match 6-2 4-6 6-2. Much has changed since then, Sakkari will fancy her chances this time around.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Daria Kasatkina vs. Maria Sakkari, Roland Garros R3 Preview

?? Roland Garros, R3 Preview
?? (14) Daria Kasatkina vs. ?? Maria Sakkari

A Fascinating third round clash on Friday in Paris sees the 14th seeded Daria Kasatkina take on Maria Sakkari. This will be as close as it gets to playing against a clone for these two, Kasatkina and Sakkari have very similar playing styles, similar strengths and similar weaknesses. Both have moved into the third round without dropping a set and both are aiming to reach the second week in Paris for the first time, who will prevail?

Daria Kasatkina of Russia in action during her second-round match at the 2018 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

The expectations are high for Kasatkina heading into this year’s tournament. Kasatkina has had some great results in 2018, most notably a run to the final at Indian Wells and more recently a quarter-final appearance in Madrid. Kasatkina has the perfect game to thrive on clay and she is now into the third round in Paris for the third straight year courtesy of straight set wins over Kaia Kanepi and Kristen Flipkens. If Kasatkina wins this she is likely to face Wozniacki next, an opponent she has beaten on the last few occasions, so there is a big opportunity for Kasatkina to reach new heights.

Maria Sakkari is into the third round in Paris for the first time, Sakkari has now reached the third round at every Grand Slam on 1 occasion. Sakkari arrived in Paris with confidence after claiming two huge wins over Kiki Bertens and Karolina Pliskova in Rome. Sakkari has produced two typically gutsy performances to start her Roland Garros campaign, a 7-6 6-2 win over Mandy Minella followed by a noteworthy 7-5 6-3 win over the 23rd seeded Carla Suarez Navarro.

Interestingly the pair have met at the tour level on just 1 previous occasion. It was Kasatkina who won that match, a 6-1 7-5 win on clay in Bucharest back in 2015, both have improved significantly since then.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Naomi Osaka vs Maria Sakkari, Indian Wells R4 Preview

BNP Paribas Open, ??? Indian Wells R4 Preview
?? Naomi Osaka vs ?? Maria Sakkari

Naomi Osaka and Maria Sakkari will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the fourth round stage of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday. Osaka and Sakkari are two young players on the rise, both will see this as a huge opportunity to reach the quarter-final stage of a premier mandatory event for the first time. Osaka and Sakkari have both beaten big names on route to the final 16, expect a quality encounter.

Maria Sakkari of Greece in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka started the event with a big upset as she defeated 2-time former champion Maria Sharapova in the opening round, a fairly comfortable 6-4 6-4 victory. Osaka backed up her big win over Sharapova impressively well, claiming a dominant 6-3 6-2 win over former finalist Agnieszka Radwanska. Osaka confirmed her spot in the fourth round when she defeated America’s Sachia Vickery 6-3 6-3. Osaka has shown great consistency this week, something we have rarely seen from the talented 20-year-old, certainly something she has shown more of in 2018.

Maria Sakkari has also moved into the fourth round in Indian Wells without dropping a set. Sakkari started the week with a 6-4 6-2 win over Donna Vekic before causing two big upsets in a row. A 6-4 6-2 win over Ashleigh Barty and a 6-2 6-4 win over CoCo Vandeweghe. Sakkari’s win over Vandeweghe was particularly impressive, Sakkari was very consistent and diligent as she successfully exposed the weak backhand side of Vandeweghe to claim a fairly comfortable victory.

It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out, a match-up we should see a lot more of in the future as these two continue to rise up the rankings.

To view my Analysis / Prediction for this match: Click here