Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas, two rising Greek stars in the world of tennis, have made history at this year’s Roland-Garros tournament in Paris.
In an impressive victory over World No. 5 and last year’s finalist, American Sofia Kenin, Sakkari becomes the first Greek woman to qualify for a Grand Slam quarterfinal. The 25-year-old Greek beat Kenin, renowned for her aggressive style of play, in two straight sets (6-1, 6-3) in the 4th Round match on Monday, June 7.
Speaking to journalists after the match, Sakkari said, “I am speechless. It’s one of my favorite tournaments. I love Paris. I am having a great time. I do not want to leave. I will try to stay until the end.”
“Today I was ready for a battle – I came, I played and I won,” she added.
This latest victory is another superb achievement in a year that has seen Sakkari go from strength to strength, previously overcoming Kenin at the Abu Dhabi Women’s Tennis Open quarterfinals in January, and toppling World No. 1, Naomi Osaka, at the WTA 1000 quarterfinals in Miami.
Sakkari, currently ranked 18 in the world, will meet either last year’s champion, 19-year-old Pole, Iga Świątek, or 18-year-old Ukrainian Marta Kostiuk in the quarterfinals later this week.
She joins Stefanos Tsitsipas, who, in the Men’s Singles, beat 29-year-old Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta in straight sets (6-3, 6-2, 7-5) to book a quarterfinal match against World No. 2, Russian Daniil Medvedev on Tuesday, June 8.
The 22-year-old Greek, currently ranked 5th in the ATP World Singles standings, is widely regarded as one of the game’s most promising talents, having already reached three Grand Slam semifinals since 2019, including last year’s French Open. He is the youngest player ranked in the top 10 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the highest-ranked Greek player in history.
Both Sakkari and Tsitsipas were born and raised in Athens, and were introduced to tennis at an early age by tennis-playing parents. Greece is historically not well known as a tennis loving nation, although the success of diaspora Greeks, including Australia’s Mark Philippoussis (“the Scud”), certainly raised the profile of the game in recent years.
The successes of these two home-grown players has without doubt prompted a surge of interest among young Greeks, and, as restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic are lifted, municipal tennis courts around the country will be full of eager young players keen to emulate their heroes.
Indeed, in a further boost to the game of tennis in Greece, it was announced earlier this year that the world-famous Mouratoglou Tennis Academy will open a branch at the luxury Costa Navarino Resort in the southwest Peloponnese.
Born in France to a Greek father, Patrick Mouratoglou has coached some of the world’s finest tennis players, including Stefanos Tsitsipas, Coco Gauff, Grigor Dimitrov and Marcos Baghdatis, and is currently coaching 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.
The opening of the elite academy will further raise the profile of the game in a country that is fast getting a taste for its new-found success on the tennis world stage.
Best of luck to Maria and Stefanos in their upcoming Grand Slam quarterfinal matches!