Indian Wells: Maria Sakkari earns hard-fought win over Coco Gauff to set up final vs Iga Swiatek

Maria Sakkari, of Greece, celebrates winning a game against Coco Gauff, of the United States, during

For the second time in three years, Maria Sakkari will take on Iga Swiatek for the Indian Wells title after falling to the Polish star in 2022.
Maria Sakkari needed three sets and four match points to get past US Open champion Coco Gauff on Friday, setting up a title clash with world number one Iga Swiatek at the ATP-WTA Indian Wells Masters. In a match halted twice by rain, Greece’s ninth-ranked Sakkari squandered three match points in the second set but pulled away in the third to win 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2.

For the second time in three years, she’ll take on Swiatek for the title after falling to the Polish star in 2022.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek needed just 69 minutes to clinch her return to the championship match, beating 32nd-ranked Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk 6-2, 6-1.

There would be no easy victory for Sakkari, who trailed 4-3 in the opening set when light rain stopped play for 20 minutes.

Sakkari returned and held serve before gaining the only break of the opening set, converting her fifth break point.

The second set had barely begun when heavier rain halted play for two hours. When it resumed, Sakkari struck first, breaking an error-prone Gauff for 2-1 and again for a 5-2 lead.

But the world number three, playing in the Indian Wells semi-finals for the first time, responded.

Gauff broke Sakkari handily to claw back to 5-3.

Two games later, Sakkari battled back from 15-40 down but couldn’t convert her three match points, sailing a forehand long on the first before Gauff saved two more with winners on the way to a service break that knotted the set at 5-5.

The tiebreaker was all Gauff as the American roared to a 6-2 lead, finally leveling the match with a service winner on her fourth set point.

They exchanged service breaks to start the third set, but Sakkari won the next three games to take control and broke Gauff a final time to seal the win after two hours and 41 minutes.