Fixture: Serena Williams vs Maria Sakkari
Date: 25 August 2020
Tournament: Western & Southern Open 2020
Round: Round of 16
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York, USA
Category: WTA Premier 5
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $1,950,079
Match timing: Not before 7 pm EDT, 4:30 am IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN
Serena Williams vs Maria Sakkari preview
Serena Williams' struggles on her return to the tour after the COVID-19 break continued in her first match at the Western & Southern Open in New York. The American eked out a narrow win over her Dutch opponent Arantxa Rus on Monday, winning 7-6, 3-6, 7-6.
Williams had a difficult week in Lexington too, having to come back from a set's deficit in both her wins before losing to Shelby Rogers. And it seems like her shaky form is here to stay if her opening match in New York is anything to go by.
The third seed was solid on her serve in the first set, clinching it in a close tiebreak, before losing momentum and blowing an early lead to drop the second. Serena then looked set to cruise to victory in the deciding set before getting broken back while serving for the match and getting broken again in the next game - giving her opponent the opportunity to serve for the match.
However, the 23-time Slam champion showed her famed determination as she broke back and then bageled Rus in the tiebreak to book a Round of 16 meeting against Maria Sakkari of Greece.
The 13th-seeded Sakkari overcame a spirited fight from Yulia Putintseva in the second set to win 6-4, 7-6 and set up an exciting clash with Serena in the Round of 16. The second set tiebreak was exceptionally close, with Sakkari edging her Kazakh opponent 11-9 to win the match in straight sets.
Serena Williams vs Maria Sakkari head-to-head
Serena Williams and Maria Sakkari have never met on the WTA tour, but they did face off at the Hopman Cup in 2018. The 23-time Slam champion won that match 7-6, 6-2, but the Greek would be expected to give Williams much more trouble this time around.
Serena Williams vs Maria Sakkari prediction
Looking at Serena's form since the tour resumed, her Round of 16 clash against the World No. 21 is likely to be a tough battle. The American great will have to dig deep to pull out another victory and book her place in the quarter-finals, where either Vera Zvonareva or Johanna Konta will be waiting.
Maria Sakkari looks in decent form, and has had a strong year overall so far. The 25-year-old had her career-best Slam result at this year's Australian Open, where she lost to Petra Kvitova in the fourth round.
The Greek does possess the game to upset possibly the greatest tennis player of all time. And given Serena's form, there may not be an outright favorite in this match.
Prediction: Maria Sakkari to win in three sets.Published 25 Aug 2020, 15:53 IST