No. 1 seed Maria Sakkari gave credit to world No. 56 Irina Begu for the performance she delivered during their St. Petersburg semifinal. Sakkari, ranked at No. 7 in the world, scraped past Begu 6-4 6-7 (4) 6-4 to reach the St. Petersburg final.
Sakkari edged out Begu after three hours and four minutes of play. "It was a very tough match," Sakkari said afterwards, per the WTA website. "I think Begu played really, really well. The level of the match was super-high. I had to come up with some very tough shots and very physical tennis, but I’m very glad I did it, and I’m super excited to be in the final here.
"As I mentioned on court, it’s one of my favorite tournaments, so I’m just very excited that I was able this year to reach the final. I still have one more match to go, and I’m going to try my best to win the tournament."
Sakkari avoided a surprise loss
Sakkari claimed the first break of the match in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead but failed to serve out for the opener in the following game.
Failing to serve out for the first set didn't impact Sakkari as she kept her focus and broke Begu in the 10th game to still win the opener. After losing the first set, Begu broke Sakkari in the opening game of the second set.
However, Begu's lead was short-lived as Sakkari broke back in the fourth game to level the set at two games apiece. The two players were tied at four points apiece in the tie-break before Begu won three points in a row to win the set and force a decider.
A total of six breaks were seen after the opening eight games of the third set. Sakkari then claimed the seventh break of the set in the ninth game and served out for the match in the following game. Sakkari will be battling Anett Kontaveit for the St. Petersburg title.
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