Greece’s Maria Sakkari defeats Paula Badosa and will face Iga Swiatek in the final


Maria Sakkari knocked out defending champion Paula Badosa in the Indian Wells semi-finals on Friday and will face Iga Swiatek in the deciding match after the world number four battled after a breakdown in every set to defeat Simona Halep.

Sakkari, who had won just two of his last 14 semi-finals, broke down in tears after reaching the biggest title game of his career following a 6-2 4-6 6-1 win over the Spaniard Badosa in the California desert.

“I work my whole life to get here, until the final stages of tournaments. It means a lot to me,” said Sakkari, who is ranked sixth in the world.

The 26-year-old sailed through the first set with ease, but lost momentum in the second before regaining her first-set level and heading to a nerve-free conclusion, hitting 28 winners in total.

Maria Sakkari celebrates winning a point against Paula Badosa in her semi-final match at the 2022 BNP Paribas Open on March 18, 2022.
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Sakkari will face Swiatek in Sunday’s final after the Pole secured a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Halep in just under two hours to extend her winning streak to 10 games and reach her second final row after winning the WTA 1000 title. in Doha last month.

“I know Iga very well… She’s an incredible player,” added Sakkari. “I respect her a lot and admire her game. It will just be an amazing fight for both of us and a very tough match for both of us.

Former French Open champion Swiatek prevailed in an upside-down opening set, saving two set points in the tiebreaker and hitting 19 winners to Halep’s five to close the opener.

Maria Sakkari and Paula Badosa embrace after their semi-final match at the 2022 BNP Paribas Open on March 18, 2022.
Maria Sakkari and Paula Badosa embrace after their semi-final match at the 2022 BNP Paribas Open on March 18, 2022.
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Two-time Grand Slam winner Halep turned the momentum back in her favor in the second set but couldn’t fight past Swiatek, 20, who rallied 4-2 before winning 16 of the last 21 points. to seal the result of the semi-final.

After being pushed to three sets in her first three matches this week, Swiatek picked up her second straight win in a row, following her 6-1 6-0 dismissal of Madison Keys with a win over Halep.

“It’s crazy, honestly,” Swiatek said, thinking back to his second straight final. “At the start of the tournament, I didn’t even think about it, especially after winning in Doha… It’s really above my expectations so I’m really happy.

Paula Badosa shows her dejection against Maria Sakkari during their semi-final match at the BNP Paribas Open on March 18, 2022.
Paula Badosa shows her dejection against Maria Sakkari during their semi-final match at the BNP Paribas Open on March 18, 2022.
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“In my previous matches against Simona I always felt I had nothing to lose because I was still not the favorite but this one I felt my ranking was higher and obviously I played well.

“It was stressful for sure, but I wanted to fight until the end and be stronger mentally because Simona is a very strong player, mentally. She doesn’t give up so I wanted to do better. I’m pretty proud to have done this.

New York Post

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