Maria Sakkari made a major shift in the off-season, and it’s already paying dividends at the 2024 Australian Open.

“I don't know if you noticed,” she teased after a 6-4, 6-1 win over Nao Hibino. “I changed racquet. It's a completely new frame. After ten years using the same racquet, that was a big change for me.”

Sakkari pivoted to the Shift line of Wilson racquets after playing with their Ultra frames since 2016, having previously used with Babolat racquets as a junior. Coming off an uneven year that ended with the high of winning her first WTA 1000 title in Guadalajara, the world No. 8 opened up about the change in her post-match press conference on Sunday.

“It's been a while since I wanted to change racquets. I spoke to Wilson, and I think we came up with a great plan and great racquet for myself and for my game. It's been the perfect racquet for my game. I still get the spin, but I get a lot of power and control at the same time.

“It was a big step. People around me were a little bit hesitant, but they could see that I was telling them that I know there's a racquet out there that is better for my game. It feels the right thing.”


Sakkari, 28, made no changes to her preferred strings, sticking with the Luxilon ALU Power 125, but the new frame has proven successful since debuting it at United Cup, where she won all three of her singles matches in straight sets.

“I think I had a very powerful racquet,” she said of the Ultra. “I think that I'm a very different player to the one that I was when I first started using my previous racquet. I needed that power before.

“Now I need more control…We had a two-day testing session. After one session I narrowed down from 12 racquets. I narrowed down two, and then the next day I have already decided, so that was pretty quick.”

While players are often loath to make major equipment changes, those who do often see immediate success: Tommy Paul roared into his first major semifinal at the Australian Open after kicking off the 2023 season by switching from Wilson to Yonex racquets, and Daniil Medvedev made a change to his strings that revitalized his season last spring.

Might Sakkari’s switch be the confidence boost she needs to better her previous career-high ranking of No. 3? Her next match in Melbourne will be against Elina Avanesyan.