WATCH: Maria Sakkari clinched the eighth and final spot at the season-ending WTA Finals in Fort Worth with an emotional three-set win over Veronika Kudermetova in Guadalajara.


How did Maria Sakkari clinch the eighth and final spot in the singles field at the season-ending WTA Finals? Con corazón.

The Greek star's fight and fire have made her a crowd favorite this week at the Guadalajara Open Akron as she sought a berth in the year-end event. That emotion reached a fever pitch, for both Sakkari and her adoring public, on Friday night when she beat Veronika Kudermetova in a 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 quarterfinal—a match where the winner would qualify for Fort Worth.

“Without fire, you cannot win these matches—without heart, without courage, without just going for it and being brave," Sakkari said in victory on Friday. "You cannot get these opportunities, you cannot win them, you cannot do things like the one today.

“My heart, my fighting spirit, these are the two things I’m mostly proud about. I mean, my tennis is there. Everyone here plays good. It’s just who’s catching a little bit more in the big moments, and I feel like today I just went for it."

Sakkari, who defeated Marta Kostyuk and Danielle Collins to set up the winner-take-all clash against Kudermetova, also credited the support she's received from the Mexican fans this week with giving her new vigor in what's been a challenging season. The Greek's reached her sixth semifinal of the year in Guadalajara, but just her third since March.

"This is the tournament that [I've gotten] the most support out of any other tournament," she said. "You guys make me feel like a superstar ... I want to stay here until Sunday and celebrate with you as much as I can."

Sakkari will face Czech Marie Bouzkova in Friday's semifinals.