We haven’t seen the best tennis from Maria Sakkari yet this year. The backend of 2021 saw her finish her highest position ever in 6th. It is expected to have a dip after such a year. She is seeded first facing unseeded Russian Anastasia Potapova in the second round in St Petersburg, Russia, an indoor hard court her favorite surface. Potapova was a great former juniors player struggling with the transition to senior tennis ranked 69. Sakkari struggled on serve in this match, check out 1-0 Potapova first point. The long rallies were in favor of the Russian in general, Potapova’s groundstrokes were great particularly during this point when she hit that backhand(defensive) on the baseline mid point to keep the point alive. Sakkari gave way too many break point opportunities to the Russian, 14 in all. Potapova raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set. This was a game in which the first set was split in half.The only thing that would save Sakkari was that Anastasia was equally poor at holding serve if not worse in the last 5 games of the set. Before that watch the backhand slice winner at 4-1 first point. You rarely see those these days that is because players have become athletes able to move quickly across the court, in this case Maria wasn’t moving as freely as we know her to be. Both served above the threshold of 60% on first serve, not a lot of Aces so it was a matter of who gets the other on the baseline. Sakkari ended up getting back into the set and winning it 6-4. Check out 4-4(15-30). Potapova made to pay for the short serve no where near the areas needed to cause a player like Sakkari problems.
A much better start to the second set than the first from the Greek. How about a break of serve to love to start it. Check out first game second set 0-40 Sakkari. I admit it both players were somewhat unfortunate in this point. The first was Anastasia with the net cord and the second Sakkari framing the forehand but did enough to keep the shot from going wide beyond the line. I admire the staying power of Anastasia though, she needs to work on converting those break point opportunities though. Check out 1-0 from 40-30 through to deuce. That comes with mental fortitude and cannot be easily coached. That is the difference between juniors tennis and the big leagues. With the set back on serve at 3-3 on the Anastasia racquet, the Russian’s best game yet. Watch 30-15, when you open up your racquet like that it confuses the opponent as to the direction of the shot, Potapova gets the angle spot on. She would lose the ninth game decisively to lose the match. She can be proud of this performance despite this especially after shots like at 4-3 Potapova 15-0. Again her biggest weapon is her defensive game, she got the tools now she needs the right mindset. Sakkari will play another Russian Alexandrova in the Third Round.