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Maria Sakkari – 2023 Season Review

Maria Sakkari in action ahead of the WTA Linz Open.

Maria Sakkari began her 2023 season coming off a solid end to the 2022 season. In 2023, the Greek faced a multitude of lows in Grand Slam events but had some highs along the way. She notably broke a frustrating WTA title drought in Guadalajara and clinched another WTA Finals appearance. However, a dismal 2-4 record in Grand Slams and eight first-round exits means there is a lot to work on for the Greek in 2024. With that, read below for a recap of Sakkari’s 2023 season.

Maria Sakkari 2023 Season Review

Early Season

Sakkari began her season by teaming up with Stefanos Tsitsipas at the United Cup. In group stage action, she did not lose a set in her singles and doubles matches. However, she suffered a surprising three-set loss to Martina Trevisan in the semifinals, which helped Italy eventually knock Greece out of the tournament. The Greek followed that up with a disappointing third-round loss at the Australian Open to Zhu Lin. 

Sakkari then turned to the indoor hard courts to gain some momentum. As the top seed of the Linz Open, a WTA 250 event, she fell to Petra Martic in another tough three-set match. In Doha, Sakkari claimed one of her better wins on the year, taking out Caroline Garcia 6-2 6-7 (3) 7-6 (5). Until late summer, this would be her only Top 10 win on the season. She then lost in the semifinals to Jessica Pegula. Perhaps worn out from Doha, Sakkari lost days later to Karolina Pliskova in Dubai, managing to win just three games.

The Greek improved in Indian Wells, battling through four consecutive three-set matches. She first had to fight from 2-6 4-4 0-40 down to win against Shelby Rogers, and nearly fell a set and a double break down against Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals. Eventually, Sakkari lost 2-6 3-6 to Sabalenka in the semifinals. In Miami, Sakkari lost in a three-set battle to Bianca Andreescu.

Mid Season

Moving into the clay season, Sakkari again had to face Karolina Pliskova in a tournament opener, this time in Stuttgart. Similar to Dubai, Sakkari lost in straight sets. In Madrid, Sakkari reached the semifinals, falling to Sabalenka in another quick loss. Along the way, she took out Masarova and Badosa, two Spaniard home favorites.

Sakkari then began her worst patch of form in 2023, losing in the third round of Rome to Marketa Vondrousova. At Roland Garros, she was drawn into one of the mouth-watering first-round matchups against Karolina Muchova. Despite a great battle, she disappointingly lost in straight sets. 

Her struggles continued on the grass, deterring her WTA Finals hopes and her Top 10 ranking. She fell in the second round of Nottingham to Alize Cornet and then lost to Donna Vekic in Berlin. At Wimbledon, she fell to Marta Kostyuk 6-0 5-7 2-6 in Round 1.

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Late Season

One of the highs of Sakkari’s season was the WTA-500 Citi Open. She broke an infamous “semifinal curse”, winning her first semifinal in six attempts against Jessica Pegula. She fell to Coco Gauff in the final, losing in straight sets. Despite the solid result, she could not capitalize for the remainder of the North American hardcourt swing. She lost in her first match of Montreal, and again lost to Muchova in Cincinnati. At the US Open, she lost to Rebeka Masarova 4-6 4-6, a player she had beaten in Madrid. In an interview after the match, Sakkari admitted that she was “suffering on the court.”

However, Sakkari’s tennis only elevated following the US Open. Despite another surprising loss to Emma Navarro in San Diego, Sakkari claimed her first title since the 2019 Rabat Open in Guadalajara. She demolished Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-0 in the semifinals and then clinched the WTA 1000 title with a 7-5 6-3 win over surprise finalist Caroline Dolehide. This result marked her second WTA title and put her back in the running for a WTA Finals appearance.

In Asia, Sakkari lost to Pegula in the Tokyo semifinals, and Gauff in the Beijing quarterfinals. In need of a big result, she entered the WTA 500 Zhengzhou event but lost to home-favorite Qinwen Zheng in her first match. Ranked ninth in the WTA Finals leaderboard, she was able to snatch the last spot of the event after No. 8 Karolina Muchova withdrew due to injury.

Her WTA Finals results were unspectacular, going 0-3 despite nearly winning a thriller against Elena Rybakina. However, Sakkari was able to defend a plethora of ranking points, maintaining her place in the Top 10.

Sakkari can afford some surprising losses or upset results in 2024 — such naturally happens when one plays aggressive tennis. However, she needs to play more consistently in Grand Slam events, surely one of her primary goals for the upcoming season.

Main Photo Credit: Mike Frey – USA TODAY Sports


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