MATCH POINT: Halep sets Sakkari showdown

Guadalajara, here comes Maria Sakkari.

A two-time major semifinalist this year, Sakkari can add a groundbreaking WTA Finals debut to her growing resume after becoming the first Greek in history to secure a spot Thursday in Moscow. Sakkari led Anna Kalinskaya, 6-2, 1-0, when the Russian was forced to stop their second-round contest at the Kremlin Cup due to illness.

“I was very hard on myself up until this year,” Sakkari said afterwards. “Growing, and also getting older and more mature, you see certain things different. Being nice to myself was one of the most important things I’ve changed this year.”

Sakkari is the fifth competitor to qualify for November's WTA’s season finale, joining Ashleigh Barty, Aryna Sabalenka, Barbora Krejcikova and Karolina Pliskova. The 26-year-old next meets eighth seed Simona Halep, as the Romanian booked her quarterfinal place with a 6-1, 7-6 (4) victory over Veronika Kudermetova.


Sakkari is ranked a career-high No. 7 this week.

Sakkari is ranked a career-high No. 7 this week.

Ninth seed Anett Kontaveit set a final-eight clash with No. 2 seed Garbiñe Muguruza thanks to her 6-1, 6-4 dismissal of Andrea Petkovic. Marketa Vondrousova also advanced without much resistance, dispatching Lesia Tsurenko, 6-3, 6-3. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova awaits.

In men’s action, the top-two seeded home favorites endured different outcomes. A day after turning 24, there was no extended birthday celebration to be had for Andrey Rublev. Despite reaching match point, the No. 1 seed was ousted in his opener by Adrian Mannarino, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3, after two and a half hours of battling.

As for second seed Aslan Karatsev, he moved past qualifier Egor Gerasimov, 6-4, 6-3. The Australian Open semifinalist is appearing here for the first time in five years, when he successfully qualified into the 250-level event for the fourth year running. Karatsev's first ATP main-draw win occurred at this very event in 2015 when he defeated Mikhail Youzhny.

Over in Antwerp, No. 2 seed Diego Schwartzman denied 2019 champion Andy Murray, 6-4, 7-6 (6). Schwartzman trailed 1-4 in the first set before settling into the first-time meeting. The world No. 12 improved to 33-20 on the year and is seeking the first indoor hard-court trophy of his career.

Seventh seed Lloyd Harris and Marton Fucsovics were also victorious, respectively.