Maria Sakkari makes brutally honest admission after upsetting Coco Gauff

Sakkari bounced home favorite Gauff in the Indian Wells semifinal.

by Dzevad Mesic
Maria Sakkari makes brutally honest admission after upsetting Coco Gauff
© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Maria Sakkari was straight honest in her press conference after upsetting Coco Gauff, admitting her win over the 2023 US Open champion would not have happened six months ago. 

On Friday evening in Indian Wells, world No. 9 Sakkari survived two rain delays and Gauff saving three match points before completing a 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-2 win. After suffering two straight-set defeats to Gauff last year - including the one in the Washington final - Sakkari got her revenge on the American in the desert.

For Gauff, it was her first loss on the American hard courts since 2023 Miami - last summer, the 20-year-old American won titles in Washington, Cincinnati and the US Open. While Gauff was dominating on the American hard courts last summer, Sakkari had a couple of early exits after losing in the Washington final, including a US Open first-round loss after which the Greek burst into tears. 

After beating Gauff in Indian Wells, Sakkari was asked if this win could have happened six months ago.

"Against Coco? No. Straightforward no (smiling)," Sakkari admitted.

Maria Sakkari and Coco Gauff
Maria Sakkari and Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Sakkari on how she prevented Gauff from making a major comeback 

After breaking Gauff in the ninth game of the first set for a 5-4 lead and then serving out for the opener in the following game, Sakkari also went up by a double break in the second set when she broke the American in the third and eighth games for a 5-2 lead. 

Just when it seemed that Sakkari was moments away from sealing a routine straight-set win over Gauff, the Greek failed to serve out for the match in the eighth game. Then, Sakkari also missed out on three match points when serving for the match for the second time in the 10th game. 

Sakkari paid the price for twice failing to serve out for the second set as Gauff went 6-2 up in the second-set tie-break before converting her fourth set point to force a third set. 

After losing the second set in a devastating way, Sakkari also dropped her serve in the first game of the third set. Just when it seemed that Gauff was en route to make a major comeback, Sakkari showed great mental strength and resilience, breaking the No. 3 seed in the second, fourth and eighth games to seal a three-set win and an Indian Wells final ticket. 

"I just told myself that the easy way out was just to give up in that third set, and I just wanted to challenge myself one more time and see what I can do after losing that second set," Sakkari said.

"I also kept telling myself that you're not the first or the last person that loses a set or a match -- well, a set from being match points down, and, you know, that gave me strength.

"I just bought into the game style where I had to be more aggressive and, you know, mix it up a little bit. I think that I was too predictable in the end of that second set.

"I'm just, you know, happy that I was able to close that out."

Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Sakkari on facing Iga Swiatek next

As a reward for beating Gauff, Sakkari will have a chance to meet world No. 1 Swiatek in the Indian Wells final. When Sakkari, 28, and 22-year-old Swiatek meet in Indian Wells, it will be their sixth meeting. 

Interestingly, the last time that Sakkari and Swiatek played against each other happened exactly two years ago in the 2022 Indian Wells final. Back then, the Pole crushed the Greek 6-4 6-1 for her first Indian Wells title. 

But despite that loss, Sakkari still owns a positive 3-2 head-to-head against Swiatek. 

"Yeah, it's actually pretty crazy that last time we played was two years ago. I would say we are very different two years ago both of us. That's when her streak started or a few weeks before that," Sakkari said.

"You know, having that lead doesn't really mean anything, because she's the best player right now in the world.

"I'm just going to, you know, try and keep that lead and stay, you know, two wins ahead of her, but it's just going to be very, very tricky."

Maria Sakkari and Iga Swiatek
Maria Sakkari and Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

After acknowledging that Swiatek is a totally different player compared to the last time they played, Sakkari noted it would be a very difficult challenge but also highlighted she believes in her abilities. 

"I'm sure that I cannot really say much because we haven't played each other in two years. So it's always different to see that player playing against other players and not yourself," Sakkari added. 

"But, you know, one thing I know for sure is just that she's very good, I'm very good, and we're just going to fight and try and win that tournament."

Maria Sakkari Coco Gauff Indian Wells