Written by By Staff Writer
Maria Sakkari of Greece qualified for the $2 million WTA Finals season-ending event in Singapore after posting a win over Swiss Timea Bacsinszky, a semi-finalist in the tournament last year, in a final-set tiebreaker on Sunday.
Sakkari earned the eight spot for Singapore by ending the best-of-five match score at 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. It is the second consecutive year the Turkish Telcove Galatasaray player has qualified for the year-end tournament.
Bacsinszky defeated fellow Swiss Timea Bacsinszky to win her third WTA title of the season and the third of her career. Bacsinszky’s sole triumph prior to Singapore was in May 2015.
Sakkari had the best of the start, taking the first set comfortably. It didn’t take Bacsinszky long to settle in, however, and soon was on the attacking. In a brilliant hold to love she was one point away from the opening set. But Sakkari hung in there, and was able to re-establish her lead to 1-1 in the third, then won the next game as well to complete the set.
Sakkari was soon battling back, but Bacsinszky managed to hold for 2-2 in the final set. A game later Sakkari served it out, finishing it as she started by serving a forehand winner past the surprised Bacsinszky.
“It’s been an amazing week, my first semi-final here,” said Sakkari. “It was a very tough match. She plays a good ground game, she’s fast and powerful. I tried to do whatever it takes and luckily, I put some huge winners in.
“I feel so happy, so honored to be in the Top Eight at this moment in my career. I’ll always cherish this moment, so, yeah, I’m sure I’ll have many more to come.”
In both ties, her opponent was on top of her game and trying to make something of a comeback. But Sakkari was able to hang on to the win.
“It was a tough match today,” said Bacsinszky. “We played so well in the first and third sets. It was so close. One little mistake and it could be a different story. I think we had the right strategy for the match, so I’m happy with the way it played out, and I’m really sad about the match tiebreak.”
What she didn’t like was that she didn’t lose two net cords in the tiebreak.
“It’s always difficult to win the tiebreaks. It was in the second set I lost two nets cords,” she said. “I think she was a little bit better on the net points. She had more control on the backhand which was good.”
Sakkari will join the likes of defending WTA Finals champion Angelique Kerber, who won the event last year, and the injured Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, world number one Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, the defending Chinese Open champion Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, Simona Halep of Romania, Andrea Petkovic of Germany, Daria Kasatkina of Russia, Venus Williams of the United States and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia at the Singapore event, which runs from October 6-11.