Tennis-Sakkari romps into Miami third round, Wozniacki loses in thriller

By Thomson Reuters Mar 21, 2024 | 6:02 PM

By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) – Maria Sakkari was back to her winning ways just days after losing the Indian Wells final as she demolished China’s Yue Yuan 6-2 6-2 on Thursday to ease into the third round of the Miami Open.

Putting the 6-4 6-0 California drubbing at the hands of world number one Iga Swiatek in Sunday’s final in the rearview mirror, the eighth seeded Greek was all business after having failed at the first hurdle in her last two visits to Miami.

Having collected her first WTA Tour title in Austin last month and following that up with a quarter-final run at Indian Wells, Yue represented a potentially tricky first test for Sakkari.

But the 28-year-old passed with flying colours, breaking her Chinese opponent five times in the 79-minute masterclass.

In other second round action, Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina saved match point and came back from a set down to topple former-world number one Caroline Wozniacki 5-7 7-5 6-4.

Trailing 2-5 in the second set, Kalinina appeared to be heading for the exit but with nothing to lose, she came out swinging her racket to break the Dane as she served for the match.

The danger was far from over for the Ukrainian who faced match point on her own serve but stayed alive with a fearless forehand winner to cut the deficit to 5-4. Kalinina ended up winning five games in a row to bag the second set.

With the momentum now in Kalinina’s corner, the 27-year-old poured on the pressure in the third set as she nosed ahead 5-3.

The Dane would also not go down without a fight as she survived three match points for the hold, leaving Kalinina to serve for the match.

Kalinina would need four match points to complete the comeback, securing victory on her third ace of the contest.

Next up for Kalinina is world number two Aryna Sabalenka or Paula Badosa.

All eyes will be on Hard Rock Stadium court for the first match on Friday as Sabalenka plays for the first time since the tragic news on Monday that her former boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov had died.

The former professional ice hockey player’s death sent a shockwave through the Miami Open with players rallying to support Sabalenka.

Adding more drama to the second round match, Sabalenka will be going up against Badosa, one of her best friends on the Tour.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Miami. Editing by xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)