A rock-solid Maria Sakkari beat No.4 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-4 to reach her second major semi-final of the season and first in the US Open. The Greek world No. 18 on Wednesday was excellent with court coverage through the first set, getting the early break as she delivered a dozen winners and three aces, while Pliskova struggled to keep up. Meanwhile, it took Sakkari 20 main draw appearances at the Grand Slams to reach her first major semi-finals, a feat she achieved at the Roland Garros this June.
It was a powerful performance from Sakkari as she became the first Greek player to ever reach a US Open semi-final with the victory.
“I’m impressed,” Sakkari said.
“I trusted my serve, but now I’m going to trust it even more. I’m speechless. I don’t know what to say.”
The Greek secured a break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. It was a brilliant serving performance from Sakkari as she won all but two of her first-serve points across the entire match. Meanwhile, the 2016 US Open runner-up Pliskova stumbled into 20 unforced errors and three double faults.
Pliskova saved two break points in the first game of the second set, which bought her some time, but Sakkari and her supreme serving never relented. The 17th seed kept up her domination, converting on breakpoint in the seventh game of the second set to take a critical 4-3 lead.
Two games later Sakkari didn’t blink in her first chance to serve out the victory. She wrapped up her win in one hour and 22 minutes, and didn’t face a single breakpoint in the contest.
In her post-match press conference, Sakkari expressed confidence in her form.
“I think I’m at the best age of my career,” she said.
“I’m more mature than before. As I said many times, I think every single player has a different timing of breaking through. Now it’s probably my time at the age of 26. I came in late to the tour. Was not a good junior. I was not a star when I was 18 or 19 years old. I had to work and sacrifice a lot from my life. But it’s now paying off and I’m very happy that at the age of 26 I can actually achieve these results.”
The 26-year-old Greek will next face 18-year-old British qualifier Emma Raducanu on Friday.
“I think, first of all, it’s great for our sport,” Sakkari said of the fact that two teenagers (Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez) have reached the US Open women’s singles semifinals in the same year for the first time since 2009.
“Two young girlsーnot two, we have Coco Gauff, we have many young girls playing right now. Emma, she’s having a great run, and Leylah as well, but I trust myself, I trust my game, and I believe a lot in myself.”
“I feel like my tennis is better now than it was at the French,” she said.
“I’m more prepared. I’m ready. But as I mentioned earlier, we all have equal chances of making the finals… It doesn’t matter that she’s lower ranked. She’s a great player. I’m just going to go for it and enjoy because the atmosphere today was insane.”