Maria Sakkari continued her dominance of Iga Swiatek with a comfortable 6-2 6-4 win in the round-robin stage of the WTA Finals in Guadalajara on Thursday.
Sakkari got an early service break to take a 2-1 lead and grabbed the first set when the Pole sent a forehand into the net when returning a second serve.
Swiatek improved in the second set but the Greek converted her third break point opportunity for a 4-3 lead that looked decisive given Sakkari’s dominant serving.
The Greek won 26 of 27 first serve points and was never broken in the contest played on the purple court in the high-altitude Mexican City.
Before match point, Swiatek appeared to start crying and after clinching victory Sakkari comforted her at the net with a hug.
“I saw that she was struggling. It wasn’t a nice thing to see from the other side of the net,” Sakkari said of her 20-year-old opponent, who won last year’s French Open.
“She’s a very, very nice girl. We always have great practices and great chats. It was something natural,” she said of the hug.
“It wasn’t something that I did it just for people to see that I’m a good person or anything. I could see that she was struggling, yeah, just felt like doing it.”
Sakkari improved to 3-0 against Swiatek, with all of those wins coming this year.
The powerful Sakkari is enjoying a breakthrough year having reached the semi-finals of the French Open and US Open to reach a career-high world ranking of number six.
The WTA Finals divides the players into two groups of four to play in a round-robin format, with each player competing in three matches.
The top two from each group will advance to the semi-finals.
The evening session will see Indian Wells champion Paula Badosa take on world number two Aryna Sabalenka.
The WTA Finals were not held last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and were originally scheduled to take place in Shenzhen before being moved because of pandemic-related travel restrictions in China. [Reuters]