Maria Sakkari said Monday that overcoming “bad ideas” helped her reach the semifinals of two Grand Slams last year, and she intends to go even further at the Australian Open.
The fifth seed from Greece defeated Germany’s Tatjana Maria 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) to begin her season, hoping to build on a breakout year in 2021.
To signal her purpose, the 26-year-old reached the finals of both the US Open and the French Open, and she is seeded in the top 10 of a Slam for the first time at Melbourne Park.
She explained that she thought she deserved at the top because of a newfound belief.
“I think that’s why I managed to play two Slam semifinals last year,” Sakkari said after playing the first match on Rod Laver Arena to kick off the season’s first Grand Slam.
“I started thinking about how I could get rid of all these negative thoughts and all this pressure in my head.” Of course, you’ll never be able to do or achieve everything you set out to do, but you can always improve. I demonstrated that I have a powerful mind. In fact, I proved it in court.”
She took a little to get used to Maria, but she eventually found her stride, breaking for a 5-4 lead and serving out the first set in 44 minutes.
But the 287th-ranked German refused to give up and pushed Sakkari to her limits, forcing the match into a tiebreaker before succumbing.
“We all know how difficult first rounds can be, and it wasn’t easy,” said Sakkari, who also reached the quarterfinals of last year’s season-ending WTA Finals.
“Tatjana played a fantastic match, and I struggled to keep up.” “It was my first match, and I needed some time to settle in.” I was also a little nervous about starting the tournament in this magnificent stadium.”
Sakkari will face Chinese qualifier Zheng Qinwen, who defeated Belarus’ Aliaksandra Sasnovich in three sets.