Yesterday was the crowning achievement of 2021 for Maria Sakkari. The Greek player secured a Kremlin Cup quarterfinal appearance and that gave her enough points to officially qualify for the WTA Finals in Guadalajara. It's been just a great year overall for Sakkari and it continued today. The opponent was Simona Halep but it did not matter.
Sakkari was the first of them to face some adversity having to save break points early in the match. After doing so successfully she broke Halep in the very next game. Sakkari then saved break points again to confirm the break taking a 4-1 lead. Halep missed a lot of great chances in that span and had she not, the match might have gone differently.
Sakkari served for the set at 5-3 but she got broken. Luckily for her in 2021 she doesn't allow things like that to shake her and she came right back to play a brilliant game that won her the first set 6-4. She did need 5 set points to do so but she got done. That was very important for Sakkari as she hit only 38 % of her first serves and escaping with that set against Halep was amazing.
The 2nd set was a lot better by Sakkari overall whose game was very sharp. Halpe was not as good and the Romanian player committed quite a few errors. Not a brilliant day serving did not help as well with Sakkari having her way. Essentially what won Sakkari the match was far better play in crucial points and Halep's 33 % win percentage on 2nd serve paints a very clear weakness that got exposed.