Maria Sakkari, No. 19 in the WTA Ranking earned herself a ticket to the third round on Sunday with a convincing 6-3, 6-1 win over Anett Kontaveit after 1 hour of play. The Greek player arrived in Madrid convinced she could go a long way, and so far she has backed up her claim. “I feel great to be back and to have won a couple of matches in the main draw. I always found it hard to get used to the conditions for various reasons, but this year I arrived a little earlier than normal to prepare and get used to the altitude and so far I feel great”.
For Sakkari, this will be the first time in her career she has got past the first round in Madrid, something she was unperturbed by as the tournament approached. “In every tournament I play in I think I’m going to win. Of course it’s difficult, because I still have to beat very difficult opponents, but I never arrive at a tournament thinking that winning a couple of matches is enough”. The key to the Greek player’s good results may lie in her attitude. “I don’t put pressure on myself to go further, that’s why I think I’m having good results this year”.
Madrid is one of the key tournaments for Sakkari and it is one of her favourite events. “The clay here is, probably, the best clay we have all season. The courts are great and every day I train or play a match I can feel my game improve. I have nothing to complain about”.
Despite such an atypical season, the possibility of having spectators in the stands is a breath of fresh air, not only for them, but for everyone. “I think it’s very important to have the support of the spectators, because we’ve missed it and it seems like, little by little, we’re returning to normality. It’s important for the players, the staff and even the fans”.
In the third round, she will meet Muchova, although Maria is in no doubt that in tennis, no opponents are any easier than the rest. “There are no easy matches now, nobody is easy in the draw. The further you get, the more difficult the matches get. I have a lot of respect for all the players. You can lose or win against anyone. That’s tennis nowadays”.