Sakkari/Tsitsipas Combine In Perth To Clinch Greece Finals Spot
Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas held firm in a tense mixed doubles decider against Borna Gojo and Petra Martic in Perth on Wednesday night to clinch Team Greece a spot at the United Cup Finals in Sydney.
The Greek pair’s 7-6(6), 6-4 win sealed its nation a 3-2 win in the Perth City Final after a day of drama that saw the four singles matches split.
“I am so happy and proud of this team, I just cannot put it in words,” said Sakkari. “Coming in here, it’s the first tournament of the year, you don’t know what kind of form you are in, but I think we saw that we are in pretty good form!”
“I’m happy we pulled this through. I’m proud of the team,” said Tsitsipas. “Fighters is what defines us. That first big step we took here in Perth is going to remain memorable. I’m happy we started in Perth, I wished for it… Let me just say, we might be in Sydney, but our heart remains here.”
🇬🇷 HELLAS 🇬🇷@mariasakkari and @steftsitsipas take out Martic & Gojo 7-6 6-4 to advance to the #UnitedCup semifinals 🔥 pic.twitter.com/uKEIBOgEl9— United Cup (@UnitedCupTennis) January 4, 2023
The WTA No. 6 Sakkari and ATP No. 4 Tsitsipas were both dialled in on serve throughout their 94-minute victory, winning 88 per cent (42/48) of points behind first serves, facing no break points and sending down eight aces.
It was Sakkari and Tsitsipas’ third mixed doubles victory of the week in Perth, where the pair also played together at the 2019 Hopman Cup. Sakkari admitted that familiarity with RAC Arena as well as becoming increasingly used to each other’s games contributed to their impressive performances as a duo this week.
“I think our first mixed doubles was on this court,” said Sakkari. “Our games are just clicking. We know each other really well and we have great chemistry on the court, and I think that’s the key. Of course, the more we develop as players, that’s also something that adds up and makes us play a lot better on the mixed doubles for sure.”
Team Greece will next take on Team Italy in the semi-finals across Friday and Saturday in Sydney, where Team Poland and Team USA will contest the other final-four tie.
Photo Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images
Earlier in the day session, Donna Vekic had kicked off the tie with an emphatic 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Despina Papamichail in just 64 minutes, giving Croatia an early 1-0 lead. However, Tsitsipas drew level at 1-1 after coming from 4-1 down in the third set to beat Borna Coric for the first time 6-0, 6-7(4), 7-5.
Sakkari then gave Greece a 2-1 lead after defeating Martic 6-3, 6-3, before Gojo triumphed 6-4, 6-2 against Stefanos Sakellaridis to level the tie at 2-2 and force a mixed doubles decider.
The clash of the two teams' top WTA players saw Sakkari deliver a fine serving performance to shut out Martic. The WTA No.6 landed 67 per cent of her first deliveries and won 73 per cent of those points — a recipe for success, as she was broken just once and only faced break points in two games. By contrast, Martic's serve was not the weapon it can be, with only 54 per cent of her first serves landing in.
Both players fired 19 winners apiece, but Sakkari demonstrated both more consistency and better execution on big points. A series of Martic errors paved the way for Sakkari to break for 5-3 in the first set, and the two-time major semi-finalist kept a firm grasp of momentum by unleashing on a sequence of forehands to capture Martic's serve again at the start of the second set.
Sakkari gave Martic few opportunities on return, and the Croat was largely unable to take her half-chances. Some fine shotmaking staved off the double break at the start of the second set, but Martic could not build on a 0-30 lead on Sakkari's serve in the next game. Neither could she convert two break-back points in the penultimate game of the match.
Gojo hit back on Croatia's behalf with an authoritative win over ATP No. 803 Sakellaridis. The World No. 144's heroics had sealed their defeat of France one day earlier, and Gojo completed an unbeaten Perth singles campaign in style.
Sakellaridis, 18, had thrilled his teammates and a partisan Greek crowd on his United Cup debut with a three-set upset of Belgium's Zizou Bergs. But an error-strewn opening service game saw him drop serve immediately against Gojo, and from there the teenager found himself chasing the scoreboard in vain.
The powerful Gojo dominated behind his own serve, winning 100% of the points behind his first delivery and only facing one break point late in the second set. Once Sakellaridis had settled, he demonstrated impressive fluidity from the baseline to find 16 winners to Gojo's 13.
But it wasn't enough to turn the match around. Gojo scored another early breakthrough in the second set, navigating five deuces to break Sakellaridis for 2-1, and cruised from there, sealing match point with a booming smash.
View the full semi-final schedule below.
ORDER OF PLAY - FRIDAY, JANUARY 06, 2023
KEN ROSEWALL ARENA start 1:00 pm
 I. Swiatek (POL) vs  J. Pegula (USA)
 D. Michalski (POL) vs  F. Tiafoe (USA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 M. Sakkari (GRE) vs  M. Trevisan (ITA)
 M. Pervolarakis (GRE) vs  L. Musetti (ITA)
ORDER OF PLAY - SATURDAY, JANUARY 07, 2023
KEN ROSEWALL ARENA start 10:00 am
 H. Hurkacz (POL) vs  T. Fritz (USA)
 M. Linette (POL) vs  M. Keys (USA)
Mixed Doubles Match: POL vs USA
Not Before 5:00 pm
 S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs  M. Berrettini (ITA)
 D. Papamichail (GRE) vs  L. Bronzetti (ITA)
Mixed Doubles Match: GRE vs ITA