Maria Sakkari continued her brilliant start to the 2021 tennis season by beating Sofia Kenin in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
If there has been one common theme from the first few days of action in the UAE it has been the unpredictable nature and swing of matches.
And there was more evidence of that in Sakkari’s win as the Greek ninth seed eliminated Australian Open champion Kenin despite losing the opening set.
The tournament’s top seed won that 6-2 and was level at 2-2 in the second set, before Sakkari reeled off ten straight games to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-0.
Sakkari, who has already beaten Coco Gauff and Garbine Muguruza this week, will now face fourth seed Aryna Sabalenka for a place in the final.
Kenin win could be a big moment for Sakkari
At 25, you feel Sakkari’s breakthrough is imminent, and probably necessary, in 2021.
The Greek star has only won one title thus far in her career – tasting success at the Morocco Open in 2019.
Her rise in the game has been slow, but consistent.
Remakably, Sakkari has bettered her year-end ranking in each of the last nine years – going from 702 in 2011 to 23 at the end of 2019. (WTA)
Her next target will be breaking into the world’s top 20 – and making it to the quarters of a Grand Slam – something that has so far alluded her.
Victory in the season opener in Abu Dhabi would give her the platform to build – and make the forthcoming Australian Open quarantine a little easier to bare.