Maria Sakkari began her first-ever WTA Finals campaign with a terrific 6-2, 6-4 win over Iga Swiatek on Thursday. Sakkari is the first Greek woman to play in the prestigious year-end event and she's the first to enter the world's Top 10. In her near-perfect Guadalajara opener she didn't just play like a top player, but she carried herself like the best in the world.

Following the straight-set victory, she was able to switch out of a competitive mode within seconds of securing the win and show support for Swiatek who was clearly struggling. The world No. 6 shared a brief moment of emotion with the Pole as they shook hands and Sakkari would then take the time to give her a hug at the net.

"More than anything we're human," Sakkari told press. "Okay, it's another tennis match. She's only 20 years old. She's going to have many more chances than I'll have in the future because it's only the beginning for her. I saw that she was struggling. It wasn't a nice thing to see from the other side of the net. She's a very, very nice girl. I mean, we always have great practices and great chats.

It was something natural. 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."


The world No. 6 felt "quite good" on the court, but also seems to be thriving off of it as well. Sakkari who has been working with a psychologist for years, invested in a sports psychologist this year and it's been "the best gift" she's given herself.

"Outside and inside the court, it has made me a better person in both parts of my life. It has helped me so much. As I said, it's probably the best decision I've done, both of them," she said.

She couldn't pin-point the most important thing she's learned, but is focusing on how to be more positive and caring less about any negative thoughts around tennis. She's also been much nicer to herself because of this new way of thinking and it's helped her grow on and off the court.

Sakkari will take on Indian Wells champion Paula Badosa next.