World No. 6 Maria Sakkari was thrilled she reached the semifinal in her debut at the WTA Finals. "Obviously my season is not finished yet, but this tournament has been very successful after today's win," Sakkari said, per the WTA website.
"I'm just very, very happy that I still show good emotions on court, I still play with my heart even though it's been 11 months since we started this season. I'm just going to enjoy tomorrow's match."
Sakkari, 26, beat Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (1) 6-7 (6) 6-3 to book the final ticket for the semifinal. "I think that it was my first night match and that played a huge role in my game of how the ball really felt," Sakkari said.
"I only practiced once before the tournament at night, so it was kind of new for me. I don't know, it was weird because Aryna, she's very long, she's very tall, it's tough to get serves through her. Once I got a pattern that worked well, I just kept doing what I felt was working.
I just went for it."
Sakkari finally beat Sabalenka
Sabalenka won the first four meetings between the two and Sakkari was determined to finally beat the Belarusian. Sakkari was down 3-1 in the first set but then she claimed back-to-back breaks and won five games in a row to beat Sabalenka.
"Obviously last time we played was in Abu Dhabi this year," Sakkari said. "I think my level is different today than back then. Obviously she has been having a very good season. "I think I'm just closer to them now.
My ranking shows that, my results shows that. It's just that I'm really getting closer to them. I proved to myself and everyone that I can beat them like I did today." Sakkari will face Anett Kontaveit in the semifinal.