World No. 7 Maria Sakkari acknowledged she was aware of the importance of her Moscow round-of-16 against Anna Kalinskaya. Sakkari, 26, was up 6-2 1-0 before Kalinskaya retired the match. With the win over Kalinskaya, Sakkari is guaranteed a place at the WTA Finals.
"It was a very important match. I knew that before I stepped on the court, because I knew that if I won that match. I would qualify for the WTA Finals. It’s achieving one of my biggest goals this year. It’s very satisfying," Sakkari said, per Tennishead.
Sakkari became the first Greek.woman to qualify for the WTA Finals. "I’m very proud of myself and my team that we actually made it to the Finals for the first time, and for the first time in the history of Greece for a female tennis player,” Sakkari said.
“I was very hard on myself up until this year … Growing, and also getting older and more mature, you see certain things differently”.
Sakkari learned how to love herself more.
“Being nice to myself was one of the most important things I’ve changed this year, being nice during the games and the matches”.
This month, Sakkari revealed she didn't expect to be in contention for the WTA Finals. "I cannot imagine myself being in that position at the beginning of the year," she said. "It's great to be in that position.
I really like the challenge and I really enjoy that I actually have a chance, because, yes, it might sound crazy for someone that has played the finals a couple of times or three or four times, maybe their motivation is not as high as it is for me, because let's be real it's my first time and it's a goal - it's something big for a tennis player, it is one of the best tournaments in the world and it is only eight players that get to play it."