INDIAN WELLS: World No.6 Maria Sakkari of Greece advanced to her maiden WTA 1000 final, defeating defending champion Paula Badosa of Spain 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 in the semifinal to set up a title clash against No.4 Iga Swiatek of Poland at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday (IST).
Sakkari's triumph sets up an interesting battle for the No.2 spot in WTA Rankings as the Greek player looks to end Swiatek's 10-match winning streak and win the biggest title of her career.
Swiatek scored a 7-6(6), 6-4 semifinal win over 2015 Indian Wells champion Simona Halep, advancing to the BNP Paribas Open title match for the first time.
Sakkari is into her second final of the season, having reached her first in at the WTA 500 in St. Petersburg. Coming into Indian Wells this year, the 26-year-old Sakkari had reached seven semifinals in her last 10 tournaments, making two finals over that span. Prior to Friday night, she was 0-4 in semifinals at the WTA 1000 level.
"I'll be deadly honest that I never, ever thought about it. I have a lot of people around me telling me about the semifinals and that I was not able to get over this hurdle," Sakkari was quoted as saying by wtatennis.com. "But I never, ever thought about it because I was always very confident and had a lot of belief that I would just get over it soon and it clicked, I guess."
Badosa had won the only previous meeting between the two, having defeated Sakkari last season at the WTA Finals in straight sets.
Sakkari leads the head-to-head over Swiatek 3-1. The 20-year-old Polish player earned her first win against Sakkari just three weeks ago in the semifinals of Doha. Swiatek won 6-4, 6-3 and went on to win the Doha title, her second WTA 1000 title of her career.
The winner of Sunday's final will rise to a new career-high of No.2 on Monday. Agencies