World No. 6 Maria Sakkari has the opportunity to win just the second title of her career on Sunday but will have a mightily tough ask against Iga Swiatek in the Indian Wells final. The Greek surprisingly leads the head to head 3-1 but did lose the only meeting between the two this year, a straight setter in Doha.
Swiatek improved her winning streak to 10 matches with victory over Simona Halep, defeating the Romanian 7-6 6-4. She had to come from a break down in both sets as well as saving set points in the opener. “I think mentally it was the toughest one. Also coming back in that tiebreaker, it cost me a lot of energy, for sure. I think I would say it was the most exciting one probably, if I was watching it.” she said afterwards.
Sakkari silenced a few of the doubters with an impressive win against defending champion Paula Badosa on Friday night. After breaking early in the decider of 6-2 4-6 6-1 win, some may have expected Sakkari to wobble but she did anything but, cruising through with some composed power hitting. “I think I was just being a little bit too passive in a couple of games, then I tried to be more aggressive, but I was still a break down and it was tough to come back because she was playing really good her service games,” Sakkari said after. “But then even though I lost the second set, the way I lost it was by playing aggressive, which helped me a lot on the third set”
It’s clear to see Swiatek is improving massively and is someone that will be sticking around at the highest level for a long time. No. 1 is a strong possibility at some point this year, especially if the Pole can pull off the victory here. She has been more comfortable against the harder hitters during her winning streak and in Sakkari she will also be facing one who many believe will falter under the spotlight. The conditions will also be a factor with the wind playing a big role at least on Saturday’s ATP schedule. The winner of this one will be the World No. 2 although in the live rankings, Swiatek will already rise there during Miami week.
Prediction – Iga Swiatek in three sets