"You're a wonderful person" - Maria Sakkari shares heartfelt embrace with Misaki Doi after Japanese's last-ever match at Japan Open
Maria Sakkari and Japanese tennis player Misaki Doi shared a warm embrace after their contest at the 2023 Japan Open, which was the retirement match of the latter.
Sakkari, seeded No. 4, got a bye in the first round and faced local star Misaki Doi in the second round in Tokyo. The match was emotionally charged for Doi, who was playing her last-ever professional match.
The Greek faced little trouble dispatching the 32-year-old and won the match in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1, in an hour and seven minutes.
After the match, Sakkari approached the net with open arms to give Doi a hug and congratulate her on a wonderful career. The Japanese was understandably in tears as fans at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo applauded the local favorite.
“You’re an amazing player. You’re a wonderful person. What an honor,” Sakkari told Doi at the net.
In her post-match on-court interview, Maria Sakkari revealed her conversation with the Japanese at the net. The World No. 7 shared that it was an "honor" to play against Doi and told her to enjoy her post-retirement life.
“I don’t want to talk about me today. It was an honor to play against Misaki in her last ever match. You deserve to enjoy life. You deserve to enjoy yourself, have some fun. We know how tough tennis life is. Take some time. I’m sure you’ll find a way to find something special again in your. It was an honor to play you. You had an amazing career, so congrats," Sakkari said.
Misaki Doi turned professional in 2006 and reached her career-high ranking of World No. 30 in October 2016. She has won one WTA Tour title (2015 Luxembourg Open) and two doubles titles.
Her best performance at Grand Slam is a fourth-round finish at the 2016 US Open. At the 2023 Japan Open, she won her first-round match against Petra Martic.
Maria Sakkari to face Caroline Garcia in Japan Open QF
Maria Sakkari will face off against Caroline Garcia for a second consecutive week when the two women will play the quarterfinal at Japan Open on September 28. Last week, Sakkari defeated Garcia in the semifinal of the Guadalajara Open. Both players received a performance bye due to their last four finishes in Mexico to give them sufficient time to rest.
Garcia, the No. 5 seed, bettered Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine in her second-round contest, 6-4, 6-3. She is still searching for her first tour title this year, but her performance over the past two weeks will give her confidence at the back end of the 2023 WTA Tour. The Frenchwoman also has a slight advantage on head-to-head against the Greek, winning three out of their five matches.
Meanwhile, Maria Sakkari is on cloud nine after winning the second and the biggest title of her career at the WTA 1000 Guadalajara Open. The 28-year-old is currently on a six-match winning streak and has firmly placed herself as the top contender for the 500-level title in Japan.