NEW YORK, NY, USA – Number 13 seeded Maria Sakkari released a statement to begin her efforts inside the New York bubble on Saturday afternoon with a 6-1, 6-3 first round win over Coco Gauff at the Western & Southern Open .
After a surprise defeat to Kristyna Pliskova in the first round of the Palermo Ladies’ Open, her only previous encounter in the first two weeks of the resumption of the tour, Sakkari showed supreme form over the course of 65 minutes on the USTA Billie Jean King stand. National Tennis Center in its first match against the American teenager.
Facing only a breaking point in two sets, Sakkari won nearly 70% of the points in his serve games, and broke Gauff twice in each set, to reach a second-round clash against Yulia Putintseva or Zhang Shuai.
“I think I had a really good game. I played a game in Palermo, but it doesn’t matter to me. It wasn’t even a game. [there], the way I played, “Sakkari said on the pitch after the game.” Getting back to how I did it, it’s really important, and [I take] much confidence from this. “
Despite never playing with Gauff before, the Greek number 1 has already played a crucial role in Gauff’s career so far: her retirement from Upper Austrian women’s Linz last October allowed the then 15-year-old to enter the draw as lucky. underdog, and went on to win five games en route to his first WTA singles title.
Although both players served less than 50% for the match, it was the 25-year-old world number 21 who did a better job of both protecting her second serve, and dominating when she got her first, over the course of the match.
“I think my serve was something that worked really well today and gave me a lot of cheap points, if I may call them that,” Sakkari later told reporters.
“I think the most difficult point was following the tactics all the time, as always, but I am very satisfied, because after a long time I managed to play at that level.”
Gauff could do little to stem Sakkari’s momentum in the opening set, which lasted less than half an hour. The Greek number 1 won the first three and last three games of the set, never giving Gauff a glimpse of a break point. The teenager only made two in the set once, with Sakkari serving at 2-0, 40-15, but couldn’t find a way through Sakkari’s expert defense and one-twos.
“I think one thing I like about her that not many girls have is that she is fast, and maybe I like her because I’m fast too. We don’t have a lot of touring,” added Sakkari.
“She is very young and already has a lot of good things in her game … She has a lot of room for improvement on a good way, so this will take her to a very high level. But having the right tactic with any player gives you the best result. I think that was the key. “
In the second set, Gauff held the serve with love to lead for the first – and ultimately, only – time in the match, and was given the best chance to enter the match in the next match. After denying Sakkari a couple of game points 1-1, Gauff earned her first break point of the match, only to see Sakkari deny her the chance with a big serve in the forehand corner. In the next game, it was Gauff herself who brought 40-15, but she eventually lost her serve before being broken to lose the game.
In all, Gauff scored just six winners with 24 unforced errors over the course of the match, while Sakkari recorded 14 out of 21 unforced winners.
“[I’m happy with] the way I competed. It’s hard after coming from a long layover to find your fighting spirit and strength on the pitch, so that’s the thing I’m really happy to have found today, “he added.” I always do well in the United States. I love the United States and I’m really happy to be back. “