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  Topic Review (Newest First)
Sep 5th, 2015 10:56 AM
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

I'm so proud of her, even though she lost. In the future with more experience, she will win those types of matches
Sep 5th, 2015 10:56 AM
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

A Beginner’s Guide: Maria Sakkari

t has been a year of many firsts for Greek No. 1 Maria Sakkari, capped off by qualifying for the US Open main draw at the first Slam of her pro career. Last month René Denfeld sat down with the 20 year old at the Tennis International in Darmstadt and talked to her about her season and the struggles of Greek tennis amidst the country’s financial crisis.

Tuesday marks the first time since the US Open 2013 that Greece will be represented in a major singles main draw. Maria Sakkari certainly did it the hard way, having been the underdog in all three of her qualification matches in Flushing Meadows last week.

But straight set wins over the resurgent Anastasija Sevastova and No. 28 seed Petra Martic — along with a three-set battle against No. 4 An-Sophie Mestach — secured the youngster the ticket into the big leagues. She faces China’s Qiang Wang in her first round and crack the Top 200 for the first time in her career — regardless of the outcome.

Fighting her way through qualifying against more experienced opponents is something that goes hand in hand with Sakkari’s style and on-court demeanor. A dogged competitor, Sakkari would best be described an aggressive baseliner, yet one more than happy to rally than merely to go for a reckless winner.

Around this time last month, I spoke with the young Greek following her second round loss at the $25,000 ITF tournament in Darmstadt, Germany and how she felt the first half of her year had gone.

“I think winning the $25,000 event in Maribor, making the semis in the $50,000 tournament [in Tunis] and almost qualifying for Bucharest were my best results of the season so far.

“I think I can do better, but in tennis it’s important not to get too impatient, it’s step by step.”

After a summer of hard work on the European ITF Circuit, the individual steps have certainly paid off.

Tennis runs through Sakkiri’s veins. Her mother, Angeliki Kanellopoulou, was a pro herself — making quarterfinals at the 1984 Olympic Games and reaching a career-high of No. 47. In 2013, Sakkari moved to Barcelona to hone her skills at the Portas Academy, and has been working with Germán Puentes ever since.

“I knew [Puentes] from many years ago. I used to practice with another coach who was friends with him. When I stopped working with the other coach, I contacted him. You obviously live where you practice and that’s Barcelona.

“And it’s a great city, so all good!”

Sakkiri might have moved to Barcelona but she has retained ties to her home country. Greece’s financial struggles over the past few years, particularly this summer, have been palpable across the board — even in tennis.

“The federation stopped helping us years ago when the crisis started. They don’t have money to help us and I understand it. I’m not asking for anything from them. But now the situation was quite bad – and it is – since the elections five months ago.

“I hope Germany and the rest of the European Union continue to help us, because I would like to stay in the European Union. I mean I’m Greek, but I’m also Greek-European, and I think it’s the best for everyone if we find a solution that we can remain in Europe.”

For much of July, banks were closed, and cash withdrawals have been limited. For Sakkari, it made traveling to tournaments even more stressful than usual.

“It was the first time they were closed in the last few years. We had to carry a lot of cash money with us and it was tough. We could not withdraw more than 50€ or 60€ per day and it was crazy. We had to take care of what we spend, how we spend it.

“We have an agency that helps us with the flights and we can pay with credit card and bank transfer but for a lot of things like hotels and everyday things everyone still pays cash. Yes, there are credit cards but those things aren’t without limits of course!”

Earlier this year, Sakkari played Fed Cup; a four-time veteran, she had the added bonus of working with a true mentor on the team: Eleni Daniilidou, who also happens to be the last player to represent Greece in a major singles event.

“Eleni is definitely a bit like a mentor! It was important that she was with us this year. This year we were more like a team; she knows what it takes to build a team so that we support each other. It was great this year.”

The youngster looks to pick up Daniilidou’s torch as she takes on Qiang Wang first on Court 6, hoping to go one step further in what has already been a breakout tournament for the young Greek.

Sep 2nd, 2015 03:33 AM
Power Shot
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

After sitting with her team, there is no doubt in my mind she will be a fixture on tour for years to come. She's got the talent and the right people around her.
Sep 1st, 2015 06:46 PM
Sep 1st, 2015 06:30 PM
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

pitty, she played well in the first set but choked when she served for it, she was kind of lost after that. Congrats anyway, she has the ability of becoming a top 100 player and wish her the best.
Sep 1st, 2015 11:08 AM
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

Originally Posted by gonzo79 View Post
i hope court 6 is a streamed court. Gl today anyway.
Yeah it is. Chinese Broadcasters must have bought the match
Sep 1st, 2015 11:04 AM
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

i hope court 6 is a streamed court. Gl today anyway.
Aug 30th, 2015 08:39 PM
Power Shot
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

Maria will play on Tuesday.
Aug 29th, 2015 01:12 PM
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

Should get a streamed court too as the Chinese always buy matches.
Aug 29th, 2015 12:19 PM
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

wow, so glad she made it, hope we will see her at round 2 vs Bascinszky.
Aug 28th, 2015 10:56 PM
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

She drew Qiang Wang (WTA 112). Very big chance to reach the second round!
Amazing tournament no matter what though. She has nothing to lose
Aug 28th, 2015 08:35 PM
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

I can die happy now
No one understands my excitement right now
I've been through so much following her, watching the live scores of 10K to now having her qualify for a slam. She's improved SO MUCH in the last year.

What's even more impressive is that she qualified by beating Sevastova, Mestach and Martic. That's an extremely tough draw. I'm so impressed
Mpravo koritsaki mou!
Aug 28th, 2015 08:27 PM
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

I know I stopped posting here, but this result brought me back. Simply AMAZING. I am so proud of her
Aug 28th, 2015 08:26 PM
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

Aug 28th, 2015 08:24 PM
Re: Following the Family Tradition: Maria Sakkari

Qualified! 6-4 6-4 over Martic
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