Monday, April 19, 2021

WTA Abu Dhabi: Maria Sakkari streaks past Sofia Kenin for semifinal berth

Ninth seed Maria Sakkari rallied from a set down to topple top seed Sofia Kenin 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the quarterfinals of the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Open.

The Greek fired off 23 winners, including nine aces and converted on six of her 13 break point opportunities as she won the final ten games of the match after 83 minutes of play.

Sakkari steamrolls through final two sets to knock out Kenin

Kenin was off the mark right away, breaking in the opening game of the match. After running through the next few games with little difficulty, she gained a second break after Sakkari sent a forehand wide to go in front 4-1.

After retrieving one of the breaks, the ninth-seeded Greek was broken at love to give Kenin a 5-2 lead and the top seed wasted little time in polishing off the set, powering a serve past Sakkari that she had no answer for.

The momentum shifted to Sakkari midway through the second set. After a strong hold to love gave her a 3-2 lead, the Greek forced an unforced error from the American on her fourth break chance to cap off a 16-point game.

At 5-2, a blistering crosscourt backhand winner brought up double set point for Sakkari and she duly took it on her second opportunity as Kenin missed on a backhand and the match was level at one set all.

Sakkari follows through on a backhand during her quarterfinal victory/Photo: Jimmie48 photography
Sakkari follows through on a backhand during her quarterfinal victory/Photo: Jimmie48 photography

The third set was one-way traffic as the ninth seed muscled a forehand winner to go ahead 4-0 and a love hold made it nine games on the trot to make it 5-0 and facing triple match point, Kenin saved the first, but a weak backhand into the net handed Sakkari a well-deserved victory.

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