Maria Sakkari has stern warning for Emma Raducanu ahead of Wimbledon showdown

Sakkari shares her expectations for her Wimbledon third-round match against home favorite Raducanu.

by Dzevad Mesic
Maria Sakkari has stern warning for Emma Raducanu ahead of Wimbledon showdown
© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

World No. 9 Maria Sakkari acknowledges that Emma Raducanu is playing great and that the Briton will probably be the favorite in their Wimbledon match but the Greek also took a moment to remind the 21-year-old that she will be "playing a top-10" player on Friday. 

After struggling heavily with her results in the last couple of Grand Slams and exiting them early due to some kind of a mental blockage, former world No. 3 Sakkari has made a nice start to Wimbledon after beating McCartney Kessler 6-3 6-1 and Arantxa Rus 7-5 6-3. And now in what will be Sakkari's first third-round appearance at a Slam since the 2023 Australian Open, the Greek tennis star will be taking on home favorite Raducanu.

While Sakkari finally finding some momentum in a Slam is encouraging for the Greek, the fact that Raducanu is in great form and coming off one of the best wins of her career is not good news for the world No. 9. After reaching the Nottingham semifinal at the start of the grass season and beating world No. 5 Jessica Pegula in Eastbourne, Raducanu also defeated Renata Zarazua in straight sets in her Wimbledon opener before destroying former world No. 12 Elise Mertens 6-1 6-2. 

Raducanu's latest results and her win over Mertens have led to a big hype being created about the 21-year-old ahead of the Sakkari match as the British tennis community hopes the 2021 US Open champion can do some magic at The Championships this year.

“I think the opportunity is for both. She’s also playing a top-10 player. Let’s not forget that," Sakkari said ahead of the Raducanu match. 

“She’s an unbelievable player. She’s very talented. She’s very promising. Even after winning a grand slam, she’s still very young. Obviously, she’s going to be the favorite because she’ll be playing at home. If anything, that’s normal.

“But I’m excited. It’s another challenge. That’s why we play tennis. It’s going to be pretty exciting. I’m pumped.”

Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari © Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

Even though Sakkari has been a top-10 player for a couple of years now, only on Friday she will get her first chance to play at Wimbledon's iconic Center Court. But the 28-year-old Greek insists that's no issue.

“I don’t feel like it’s something new for me. I’ve been a top-10 player for the last three years or even more, so I’ve played in big courts. It’s not like I’m just coming into this and it’s my first time," Sakkari said.

What Raducanu said about the Sakkari match?

When Raducanu, 21, and 28-year-old Sakkari meet in the Wimbledon third round, it will only be their second meeting - but again a match that will be happening on the biggest stage. When Raducanu famously became the first-ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam at the 2021 US Open, she upset Sakkari 6-1 6-4 in the semifinal. 

But going into their Wimbledon match, Raducanu insists that her 2021 US Open win over Sakkari won't mean much since simply because she feels it's a completely different situation now.

Maria Sakkari and Emma Raducanu
Maria Sakkari and Emma Raducanu © Getty Images Sport - Sarah Stier

“Circumstances are different. In a third round compared to a semi-final. At the time the dynamics were also different. I was an unknown player pretty much. I’m expecting a really tough match. She’s top 10. It’s going to be a really difficult one," Raducanu said.

“Again, it’s going to be one where I’m the complete underdog and I can just enjoy playing in (front of) my home crowd, home slam, just keep having fun and trying to stay an extra day.”

Sakkari downplays the significance of the 2021 US Open loss to Raducanu

When Sakkari lost to Raducanu in the 2021 US Open semifinal, it was her second Slam semifinal loss. Previously, the Greek made her first Major semifinal a couple of months earlier at the 2021 French Open - in which she suffered a heartbreaking defeat after losing to Barbora Krejcikova in a thriller three-setter. 

And ahead of her next Wimbledon match, Sakkari claims the loss she suffered in the 2021 French Open semifinal was more painful than the that came against Raducanu at Flushing Meadows.

Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari © Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

“It's not like it's not the best memories because I still had a good run. Obviously it was meant to be, I think, that week. It was written in the stars for her, and she took that opportunity. That's always going to stay there," Sakkari said. 

“It's amazing that she can - whenever she's done with tennis, even if she doesn't win anything else as big as that one, it's something that happens once every probably 100, even more than 100 times.

"It's a very proud moment for her and for her country, and it was a great memory. It's not like my loss at the French Open. It hurt me more than that one.”

Maria Sakkari Emma Raducanu Wimbledon