Maria Sakkari has become the eighth and final qualifier for the season-ending WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas, after battling past Russia's Veronika Kudermetova in the quarterfinals of the WTA 1000 event in Guadalajara tonight, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.

Whoever won that match would have clinched the last spot in the WTA Finals field.

Sakkari was asked in her on-court interview after the match about the fire she showed throughout her two-hour, 35-minute victory against the red-hot Kudermetova.

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

Iga Swiatek (POL)
Ons Jabeur (TUN)
Jessica Pegula (USA)
Coco Gauff (USA)
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)
Caroline Garcia (FRA)
Daria Kasatkina (RUS)
Maria Sakkari (GRE)

This is Sakkari’s second time qualifying for the WTA Finals—she played the season-ending event last year when it was held right here in Guadalajara. She went 2-1 in the group stage, defeating Sabalenka and Swiatek before falling to Paula Badosa, and eventually fell to Anett Kontaveit in the semifinals, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Sakkari is one of only three women who've qualified for the WTA Finals the last two years in a row now, alongside Swiatek and Sabalenka.

Sakkari is one of only three women who've qualified for the WTA Finals the last two years in a row now, alongside Swiatek and Sabalenka.


Though almost every game was close, for much of the early stages of the match it looked like it might turn into a runaway victory for Sakkari—she opened up a 5-0 lead out of the gates, eventually closing out the first set after 50 minutes, 6-1, and brought up double break point with Kudermetova serving at 2-all in the second set.

But Kudermetova held that game—as well as her next three service games—and finally converted on her 10th break point of the match to sneak out the second set, 7-5.

Sakkari struck right back with a break in the first game of the third set, and it turns out that’s all she needed, as the two held the rest of the way until the Greek served it out.

She was asked what she was most proud of in her victory.

“My heart, my fighting spirit. These are the two things I’m mostly proud about,” Sakkari said. “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. Obviously I saved those break points in the third set—those were the key, probably, for the match.”

Sakkari lifting her game when facing break points was maybe the story of the day—she saved 14 of the 15 break points she faced, and converted 3 of 9 herself.

Had Kudermetova won, not only would she have been the eighth and final qualifier for the WTA Finals, she would have also made her Top 10 debut on the WTA rankings on Monday. The Russian will still head to Fort Worth, not only as part of the doubles field with Elise Mertens, but also as an alternate in the singles field.

American Madison Keys will be the other singles alternate.