Maria Sakkari fires stern warning to Iga Swiatek, rest of 'WTA Big Three' ahead of RG

Sakkari addresses Swiatek's dominance and her French Open hopes.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Maria Sakkari fires stern warning to Iga Swiatek, rest of 'WTA Big Three' ahead of RG
© Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

Maria Sakkari acknowledges Iga Swiatek has been absolutely outstanding over the last few years but adds that she is "not paying too much attention" to the WTA Big Three talk as the Greek tennis star believes "everyone is beatable," including the Polish world No. 1.

Since Ashleigh Barty's retirement, Swiatek is the player who has accomplished by far the most on the WTA Tour and is now widely regarded as the best player in women's tennis. Last year, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina also further elevated their games and results, which led some to label them as "the WTA version of the Big Three."

However, there have been Slam winners outside the Big Three group as last year Coco Gauff won the US Open while Marketa Vondrousova claimed her first Major title at Wimbledon. 

Sakkari, a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist and a former world No. 3, is currently ranked at No. 7 in the world but she hasn't reached the second week of a Grand Slam in eight consecutive Major appearances. 

Against Swiatek, Sakkari once had a 3-0 head-to-head record but since the start of 2022, she has lost three times in a row to the Pole. Most recently, Sakkari and Swiatek met in this year's Indian Wells final - which the Pole routinely won 6-4 6-0.

However, Sakkari remains optimistic that he has what it takes to compete against Swiatek and ultimately win.

“Iga has been incredible the last couple of years, but everyone’s beatable and you can easily squeeze in there with one good week and then things can be a lot different for you,” Sakkari told rolandgarros.com.

“I just feel like for me, my main goal is to get into that top-three level and then everything for me is possible.

“Iga is the most stable player right now, but I just feel like everyone is playing good. And on a good day, everyone can beat anyone. So I don’t really pay attention to that ‘Big Three’ talk, because I don’t think it’s only three players at that level right now, it’s more than three.”

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

Sakkari hopes she can turn the page around at the French Open

Since losing to Jessica Pegula in the 2022 Australian Open round-of-16, Sakkari has managed to spend the majority of her time in the top-10 but her Grand Slam results haven't been good. And going into this year's French Open, Sakkari has won just one Grand Slam match in her last four Major appearances. 

While Sakkari may not have had much Grand Slam success over the last two years, the French Open is still the Slam where she made her first big breakthrough in 2021 when she reached the semifinal. And now, Sakkari is hoping the French Open can be her lucky charm and bring her first notable Slam result in quite some time.

Leading up to the French Open, Sakkari had a semifinal outing at a WTA 500 tournament in Charleston and she also picked up back-to-back round-of-16 exits in Madrid and Rome.

“I’ve experienced that high expectation thing in the past and it didn’t really work. What I’m focused on right now is just to keep that momentum going,” Sakkari said.

“I just feel like that I’m feeling good about my tennis. I might lose in the next round, I might not, I might win this week, whatever, nobody knows. I’m just happy with how I feel right now.

“Maybe this clay season is not going to be the way I want it to be, maybe I play great on the grass, who knows. I just know I’m where I want to be and I feel the way I want to feel.”

Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Sakkari enters this year's French Open more mature than ever

Sakkari, who will be turning 29 in July, made her first appearance at Roland Garros in 2016 when she failed to make it past the qualifying stage. But since then, Sakkari has made seven consecutive French Open main draw appearances at Roland Garros, and as already mentioned, has had one really deep run. 

While Sakkari hasn't won any titles this year, she was a finalist at a WTA 1000 tournament in Indian Wells and arrives at the French Open as a top-10 player. With that being said, Sakkari feels she is going in the right direction. 

“Firstly, I think that the experience I have now on the tour, every match situation I think helps me develop that (consistency),” Sakkari said.

“I feel like it really helps that the last three years I have been very consistent with my results and my ranking. You know me, I want more than that, but I just have to, first of all, get that stability back and just try and improve my game, which looks that it’s getting better already.”

Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

It remains to be seen if Sakkari can end her series of poor Slam results at this year's French Open.

Maria Sakkari Iga Swiatek Big Three
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