Maria Sakkari digs deep wins maiden title in Morocco: falls short in Madrid


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Maria Sakkari digs deep wins maiden title in Morocco: falls short in Madrid

"If you play right at her, her feet get stuck...we're giving away too many cheap points...push her back..." is what Maria Sakkari's coach Tom Hill had suggested for his player to dominate the game. "Everything is so fast..."

the young Greek had complained during the break. She had tossed her water bottle down in disgust and frustration at not being able to execute successful shots against Britain's Johanna Konta. The Brit was leading 5-1 in the opening set and feeling comfortable as she won the set 6-2.

Sakkari put forth more confidence and started pouncing on the balls to win the second set 6-4 from Konta. By now the Brit appeared to fizzle in energy and tactics. Sakkari took advantage of her lack of sharp strategies and won the decider 6-1 slamming out eight aces and her first career title.

Maria Sakkari hoisted the huge trophy over her head for picture taking time glad to have broken through with a win and title. She has also contributed a bit of history being the first Greek woman to win a singles title since 2008.

But time didn't stand still and she barely was able to absorb being a title holder than flying over to the first round of the Madrid Open. The natural happiness Maria Sakkari experienced had to be squashed and get down to business at hand, which was playing well at Madrid.

The first round opponent of the young Greek was Carla Suarez Navarro. The Spaniard isn't known for her blasting serves or powerful strategies but she dominated much of Sakkari's game and soon lead in the opening set 5 to 0 with nothing fancy, just basic down-the-lines and cross court wins.

Sakkari soon woke up seeing that she may lose the set without accumulating a single game. She turned the tables and started dominating the way she did in winning her title over Johanna Konta. She wasn't able to pull herself out of a losing streak and bowed at the first set to Suarez Navarro 6-3.

The second set was more competitive but Sakkari had no answers to Suarez Navarro's game and lost in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. It would be logical to have a down game since the beginning of the year Sakkari showed all of the fire defeating Jelena Ostapenko at the Australian Open.

She played a devious game at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, South Carolina winning over Belgium's dynamic player Kiki Bertens. But on her road to winning that first title, she's won over Elise Mertens too, besides from Johanna Konta in the final.

Sakkari had much on her plate since January and had made her skills work by capturing the Morocco Open. She obviously needed more time to re-group from the high moments she was on in her title win. What she has shown in tournaments and matches leading up to Madrid is a great potential for raising her playing level along with her ranking.

She has soaked in the splendour of being a title holder; now she has to put back in her winning strokes and tactics with the next tournament no matter the surface of the opponent.