WTA Seoul: Maria Sakkari off to a winning start
by ALESSANDRO MASTROLUCA | VIEW 2883
No.3 seed Maria Sakkari opened her campaign at the KEB Hana Bank Korea Open with a massive 6-0, 6-1 win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. The Greek No.1, sitting two places behind her career-high rank at No.30, extended her perfect 3-0 lead in their head to heads as she beat the Slovak twice in 2016, 6-2 6-3 in Istanbul and 2-6 6-3 6-4 in Tashkent.
"My whole game worked really well," Alex Macpherson quoted her to say on WTATennis.com. "I was very solid, and very aggressive when I had to be." The best aspect of her performance? "My baseline game for sure! Obviously my forehand is my big weapon, and it worked out well." Sakkari, quite predictably considering the one-sided contest, won a vast majority of big points as she claimed her third bagel at WTA-level to seal the opening set in half an hour.
She broke seven times from seven looks and clinched 67% of second serve return points against Schmiedlova, unable to win more than a point every three first deliveries. Sakkari won 16 of the final 19 points of the match while Schmiedlova, who rapidly reached 19 unforced errors, committed her sixth double fault on match point.
Sakkari will now face either Margarita Gasparyan or Varvara Flink. Twenty-year-old Tamara Zidansek faced a single break point in her 6-1 6-3 win over Polona Hercog. The Slovene is appearing in just her sixth WTA main draw this week, however, judging by her recent progress she is likely to be a fixture at this level for years to come.
A serial champion on the ITF Circuit this year, Zidansek claimed her 52nd overall win for the year. Those results helped her to rise over 120 places since February and gave her enough confidence to complete five breaks and seal six of seven close games against her compatriot, who extended her 5-match losing streak.
Local wild-card Ji-Hee Choi was 4-1 up in the third set before Stefanie Voegele, who completed seven breaks during the match, sealed a hard-fought 6-3 2-6 6-4 comeback win. The Swiss will face her compatriot Jill Teichmann, who beat Bibianne Schoofs in the last qualifying round, or No.6 seed Hsieh Su-wei coming off her first WTA title-run in six years in Hiroshima.