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Women’s Final Preview: Iga Swiatek And Maria Sakkari Throw It Back For 2022 Rematch
4 Min Read · March 16, 2024

Can the resurgent Maria Sakkari disrupt the punishing game of the World No. 1 and 2022 BNP Paribas Open champion? 

Iga Swiatek and Maria Sakkari made a habit of facing each other across the 2021 and 2022 seasons, contesting five battles in a 10-month span. But since their first final - a clash for the 2022 BNP Paribas Open title two years ago – they haven’t seen one another since. 

It will be a rivalry renewed on Sunday in the California desert, as Sakkari seeks a crowning achievement under the California sun against the woman who denied her the title in 2022. 

“It's actually pretty crazy that last time we played was two years ago,” Sakkari told the press after outlasting American Coco Gauff in a three-set battle late Friday evening. “I would say we are very different from two years ago, both of us.” 

She’s right about that. 

The last time the pair met, Swiatek was in the throes of a 37-match winning streak that would not end until she raised her second of three Roland Garros trophies in June of 2022. Since then, the Polish juggernaut has tacked on another major title – bringing her count to four – and has held the No. 1 ranking for a total of 94 weeks. 

The 22-year-old Swiatek has been the premier force in the women’s game since that final, and she will enter Sunday’s clash as the most reliable big match performer on the WTA Tour, with an 18-4 lifetime record in finals to prove it (Sakkari is 2-7 in WTA Tour finals).

Sakkari on the other hand, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 3 in the world after falling to Swiatek (6-4, 6-1) in the final here, has been in search of her best tennis ever since. 

The 28-year-old also recently made a coaching change, now partnering with coach David Witt since last month. Sakkari has been in resurgent form in her first tournament with the former coach of Venus Williams and Jessica Pegula in her box. 

“This is our first tournament,” Sakkari said on Friday. “I think we are doing pretty well –  I think together we can build something very good.” 

Sakkari has sung the American’s praises all week in the BNP Paribas Open pressroom, stating  that Witt’s simplified, laid-back style has helped her relax on the court. She’s hoping it’s the key that helps her unlock her streamlined attacking game once again. 

“Obviously he has incredible experience on the tennis side,” Sakkari said. “On the mental side, I just feel like he's just very, very relaxed. That's what I really like. He's so funny that I just enjoy my time with him on and off the court.”

Sakkari may be relaxed now, after winning four three-setters and holding off an inspired comeback attempt from No. 3-seeded Gauff Friday night in one of the wildest matches of the BNP Paribas Open fortnight, but Swiatek has a way of making her opponents feel nothing but pressure from first ball to last. 

The ruthless Pole has dropped just 17 games through five matches in the desert – an average of 3.4 games per match – as she has cruised to her second BNP Paribas Open final in the last three years. Still just 22-years-old and toting a 17-2 lifetime record at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Swiatek could be on her way to building an incomparable BNP Paribas Open legacy. 

Against Sakkari, she’ll bid to become the tenth woman to claim multiple singles titles in the California desert – no woman has won more than two.

When asked to describe a few of her strongest attributes after her 6-2, 6-1 semifinal victory over Marta Kostyuk on Friday, Swiatek didn’t need much time to think: “I would say overall the intensity and the discipline – and my topspin.” 

She could have continued on with the positives of that performance for a long time. 

In possession of one the most structured, well-balanced games on the tour, Swiatek is virtually bulletproof, especially in slow-playing conditions as seen on the gritty hard courts of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. 

If Sakkari is going to flip the script on Swiatek she’ll have to swing big, aim for the lines and put the Pole under the type of pressure that she normally puts on her opponents. 

It’s easier said than done, against a player as confident as the World No.1.

“I have all positive vibes,” Swiatek declared on Friday, with that familiar look of self-belief in her eyes. 

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