Maria Sakkari opens up on panic attacks on courts, relationship with her boyfriend

Sakkari gets candid about when she suffered a panic attack on the court for the first time and also reveals some details from her private life.

by Dzevad Mesic
Maria Sakkari opens up on panic attacks on courts, relationship with her boyfriend
© Maria Sakkari - Instagram

Maria Sakkari revealed her first panic attack on the court came after her career-high ranking as becoming the world No. 3 brought immense pressure on the Greek's back and made her think she couldn't afford herself to lose because of her high ranking. 

After finishing as runner-up in St. Petersburg and being a semifinalist in Doha in early 2022, Sakkari continued her fine form at a WTA 1000 tournament in Indian Wells, where she made the final before losing to Iga Swiatek.

En route to making her first Indian Wells final, Sakkari easily made the semifinal - in which she defeated defending champion Paula Badosa 6-2 4-6 6-1. At the time, Badosa was one of the highest-ranked players in the world and beating the Spaniard was a huge thing for Sakkari. And although Sakkari ended up losing 4-6 1-6 to Swiatek in the 2022 Indian Wells final, she still reached a new career-high ranking of No. 3 after the WTA 1000 tournament in the Californian desert.

Then, Sakkari entered the Miami Open with a shot at the world No. 1 spot since Ashleigh Barty retired. But the Greek's bid to become the world No. 1 was short-lived after she lost in her opening match in Miami. 

In her opening match of the 2022 clay season, Sakkari was down by a set and a break to Laura Siegemund in Stuttgart before retiring from the match. Now, the 28-year-old Greek reveals during that Siegemund match in Stuttgart - where she entered as the big favorite - she suffered a panic attack. 

Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari © Getty Images Sport - Tom Pennigton

Overall, Sakkari was inconsistent and didn't have much success during the clay, grass and North American hard courts swings in 2022. 

"When I went No. 3 I was in California and I beat the then No. 2 in the world. It was something elusive to me when I was a kid. We celebrated there late at night. To be honest though, No. 3 was both a blessing and a curse. When I got there, I started putting a lot of pressure on myself," Sakkari told SDNA.

"It took me a year and a half to manage it all. Today I am ready to handle it. After a month I went to Stuttgart and for the first time I had a panic attack in the stadium. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't quit the race with a panic attack. I worked on it a lot, it's only caught me once since then. I wanted to get away from the feeling that I'm inonthe court and I can't lose because I'm No. 3. I didn't know where I was. Now I know it's okay to lose."

Sakkari opens up on her relationship

Since 2020, Sakkari has been dating Konstantinos Mitsotakis, who is the son of Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. In the past, Sakkari described her boyfriend as a very relaxed person. Now. Sakkari says it is always a good time when she is spending time with her boyfriend Konstantinos and also noted that her boyfriend never pressures her with certain questions. 

"I have a very good time with Konstantinos. It doesn't matter how many days we are together, but how good we are when we are together, but also when we are apart" Sakkari said.

"I am very lucky to have him in my life and to have a man who understands me and has never told me. 'where are you going, where are you traveling?'' It pushes me to move forward and become better."

Also, Sakkari reveals the first thing after matches is getting on the phone with her boyfriend Konstantinos.

"He is always my first phone call after a very important match. First I talk to Kostantinos and then to my mother."

Maria Sakkari and Konstantinos Mitsotakis
Maria Sakkari and Konstantinos Mitsotakis© Maria Sakkari - Instagram

Sakkari still has high hopes and goals

While Sakkari managed to become a WTA 1000 champion in late 2023 in Guadalajara, her Grand Slam woes continued at the start of 2024 when she lost in the Australian Open second round. Shortly after, Sakkari decided to end her collaboration of six years with her ex-coach Tom Hill.

After splitting with Hill, Sakkari hired David Witt - who previously worked with Jessica Pegula for five years. Now, Sakkari hopes Witt can help her elevate her game and help her achieve her biggest tennis dreams.

"The coach is very important. There is always room for improvement, even if you are #1. I've reached No. 3 and now I'm No. 6, I want to reach the top though," Sakkari noted.

"And to do that I need to have the right person by my side. I felt that my previous coach could not help me anymore, we stopped our cooperation very amicably. The boundaries had been lost a little because we had become very good friends. I needed someone more experienced next to me."

Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Meanwhile, Sakkari is set to start her grass season in Berlin, where she plays Victoria Azarenka in the first round.

Maria Sakkari