Fixture: (17) Maria Sakkari vs Barbora Krejcikova
Date: 10 June 2021
Tournament: Roland Garros 2021
Venue: Paris, France
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Red Clay
Prize money: €17,171,108
Match timing: Approx. 5 pm local time, 3 pm GMT, 11 am EST, 8.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - NBC Sports / Tennis Channel | UK - ITV | India - Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP
Maria Sakkari vs Barbora Krejcikova preview
Sakkari is the highest-ranked player left on the women's side in what has been a wild tournament filled with upsets.
The Greek played the best match of her Roland Garros campaign to oust defending champion Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals. Maria Sakkari produced five aces and hit 26 winners as she secured a 6-4, 6-4 victory to end the Pole's 11-match winning streak in Paris.
Apart from a tough third-round encounter against 14th seed Elise Mertens, Sakkari hasn't dropped a set throughout the tournament and is getting better with each match. That should stand her in good stead against Barbora Krejcikova, who is in red-hot form.
A proficient doubles player who has struck gold in singles recently, Krejcikova entered Roland Garros high on confidence. She won her first-ever WTA singles title at Strasbourg and has ridden that momentum all the way to the semifinals in Paris.
Since her first-round encounter against Kristyna Pliskova, the Czech hasn't conceded a set. Her journey to the last four has seen her knock out three seeds — 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in the second round, fifth seed Elina Svitolina in the third round and 24th seed Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals.
Her 7-6(6), 6-3 win over Gauff was a test of her mental strength and she passed with flying colors. The World No. 33 warded off as many as five set points in the first set before taking it in a tiebreak and then moving up a gear to seal the win.
Maria Sakkari vs Barbora Krejcikova head-to-head
Barbora Krejcikova leads Maria Sakkari 2-0 in the head-to-head. Their first meeting was in the final at Torun when they were both still rising through the ranks, while their most recent showdown was in Dubai earlier this year. Krejcikova staved off a late surge from the Greek to register a 6-2, 7-6(4) win.
Maria Sakkari vs Barbora Krejcikova prediction
The match could be won or lost on Maria Sakkari's racquet. The Greek showed in her duel with Iga Swiatek that she can outhit any opponent from the back of the court. If Sakkari can maintain depth on her shots, the hard-hitting Greek should be able to control the match.
Maria Sakkari's big serve under pressure was crucial in getting her a straight-sets win against Swiatek; she won 83% of her first-serve points.
Another aspect of her game that stood out was her fabulous net play. Sakkari won 75% of the points when she came forward and that should boost her confidence ahead of her match against Krejcikova, who is known for her variety.
Krejcikova used fantastic angles and her ability to redirect the ball to take the game away from Coco Gauff in their quarterfinal. The Czech also showed nerves of steel, bringing out her best tennis at the crucial junctures of the match.
However, she did have problems with her serve, coughing up six double faults in the first set alone. A repeat of that could be suicidal against a player of Maria Sakkari's caliber who will grab any opportunity she is presented with.
For Krejcikova to have any chance of winning this match, she needs to serve well and hope Sakkari gets off to one of her slow starts. But considering the performance the Greek produced in the quarterfinals, she is the favorite to nick this match.
Prediction: Maria Sakkari to win in three sets