Maria Sakkari has said that she is "proud" of herself for making it through the "toughest season of her career" after being eliminated from the 2023 WTA Finals, and has revealed how she will attempt to improve in 2024.
Two months before her appearance at the 2023 WTA Finals in Cancun, the World No. 9 was in tears after her first-round defeat to Rebeka Masarova at the US Open. This came after a season of early exits at tournaments, including a loss in the opening round of Wimbledon and the French Open.
Although some successful results had helped to keep her in the Top 10, such as a run to the final at the DC Open, it was clear that Sakkari was struggling and was not sure what to do next.
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Sakkari happy with end to season
However, the Greek player was able to pick herself up and end the season on a better note. At the end of September, Sakkari won her first-ever WTA 1000 title at the Guadalajara Open, before qualifying for the WTA Finals after Karolina Muchova withdrew due to injury.
After defeats to Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, and Jessica Pegula, Sakkari's season was over and she took some time to reflect.
"I really believe this was the toughest season of my career. I don’t want to be hard on myself. I’m actually very proud of myself that I managed to finish in the top 10 for the 3rd time in a row. I really don’t know how I did it. I’m being deadly honest. After the US Open, I was probably around #20 in the race. It’s just proof to myself that I can make things happen," she said, before going on to talk about her plans for the off season.
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"But going to the off season... first of all I need a very good break. But I also need to push hard in pre-season because there are players out there who’ve taken it to another level. For me to get back to the top 3, I need to take it 1 step further. The good thing is that everyone on my team is on board. We’re gonna make changes. We’re gonna make steps and try. I’m not saying it’s gonna happen for sure. But try to get to the top level of the game again.
"As I said previously, coming into the finals, I wasn’t well prepared. I don’t feel physically fit or as fit as I should be. When I don’t move well and I’m not intense or energized, I cannot play my best tennis. But I’m very proud of the season I had… the finish of the season. Winning a tournament was huge. I’ll look forward, in a few weeks, for the next season," she continued.