Maria Sakkari - Indian Wells 2022

Maria Sakkari: ‘One more day in paradise’

It’s safe to say Maria Sakkari has tapped into the currents of Indian Wells, riding the waves to reignite her best tennis. 

She let out a thunderous roar on Wednesday after battling to victory against Diane Parry. Though it was possibly a roar of relief – the world No.9 was into a first quarterfinal since October last year.

But after going one further and booking her spot in the semi’s for the third consecutive year in California, there was no roar. Just a quiet confidence, a deep sense of pride, and a feeling of belonging.

“One more day in paradise and playing great tennis again after a while,” Sakkari said after coming back to defeat Emma Navarro 5-7 6-2 6-4.

Something in the water for Maria Sakkari at Indian Wells

The Californian desert has been a guaranteed source of success for Sakkari in recent years, a place she can bank on to consistently unearth her top-tier tennis amid a slew of disappointing outings on the WTA Tour. 

The 28-year-old thrives in the conditions that Indian Wells is known for.

The abrasive courts amplify the spin on her shots, while the high-bouncing balls allow her to capitalise on those punishing groundstrokes.

Iga Swiatek seems to be the only woman who is currently relishing the conditions more than Sakkari, who was beaten by the Pole in the 2022 final.

Although Indian Wells had been quickly branded as Sakkari’s happy hunting ground, the new coach boost is sure to have helped her cause.

After a six-year stint with Tom Hill, Daivd Witt – world No.5 Jess Pegula’s ex-coach – is breathing new life into the fiery Greek. A Masters 1000 semi-final at the first time of asking is rather promising, isn’t it?

But why is it so surprising? She is a top ten-player after all…

Spark for success?

Well, one might be forgiven for questioning Sakkari’s status as a top-ten player.

She first reached the dizzying heights of the sport back in 2021, but has registered just one title since, albeit a big one at that – the WTA1000 in Guadalajara last year.

For a sport as elite as tennis, it’s hard not to judge the highest calibre of player on the amount of titles they have won, and for comparison, the average title count of the remaining nine players in the top-ten since 2021 is 5.5.

With performances like hers this week in California, Sakkari has proven that she merits the status of one of tennis’ elite. But these glimpses have been few and far between.

Before landing in the Golden State, Sakkari had won just two of eleven matches over a period that stretched back to last October.

Though a promising campaign in Indian Wells – which is not over yet – might just be the spark she needs to rekindle the form that brought her to a career high of No.3 in 2022.

Sakkari faces tough opposition in Friday’s second semi-final clash in Coco Gauff, the explosive 20-year-old who is seeking to add a second Masters trophy to her cabinet.

Though with a positive head-to-head and in her favoured conditions, the Greek will fancy her chances of continuing the surf ride of success that she is having in California.

On the other side of the draw, world No.1 Swiatek is on a demolition course as she is into her third successive semi-final, bidding for a second Masters title in 2024 alone.

Regardless of the outcome, Sakkari has once again proven her worth, and the statistics don’t lie.

Inside the baseline…

Whether or not Sakkari is victorious in Indian Wells, her performances this week have been a testament to her status. It’s runs like these – to the latter stages of big tournaments – that remind the tennis world why she is one of the best. She has proven it in the past, but this week should give her the boost, under new coach Witt, to push on and reignite the tennis that saw her climb to No.3 in the world in 2022. 

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Jerome Coombe, Tennishead Writer, discovered his love for tennis journalism whilst studying languages and playing competitive tennis. He has a vast knowledge of tennis and strives to shed a light on all corners of the sport.