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Feeling Stagnant, Maria Sakkari Hit the Reset Button With David Witt

The Greek believes she can get back into the Top 5 and realize more of her dreams.

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday March 14, 2024

Indian Wells – With new coach David Witt in her box, Maria Sakkari is trying to ring in the new, while simultaneously turning back the clock.

The Greek wants to play the type of tennis she was playing when she reached No.3 in the world (and reached the BNP Paribas Open final) a few years ago, and she’s headed in the right direction this week at Indian Wells, where she reached the semifinals for the third consecutive year.

“I’m really buying into the new – not the new, because we haven’t really done any changes, but just trying to play the way I played two years ago when I had a very good run, just going to the net and being aggressive and just going after my serve,” Sakkari told reporters this week in the BNP Paribas Open press room.

“Just being brave, basically. Not playing to lose; playing to win. It has really helped me this week.”

Sakkari has won three three-setters at Indian Wells this week, defeating No.23 seed Emma Navarro in the latest, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, to set a semifinal with Coco Gauff on Friday in Southern California.

PERFECT 🔟 @mariasakkari fights past Navarro 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 in a late night battle and reaches her 10th WTA 1000 semifinal!


— wta (@WTA) March 15, 2024

Whatever Witt is doing as her new coach, Sakkari feels it is working. They are at a tournament together for the first time and she told reporters she is enjoying his relaxed vibe.

He’s just very relaxed and very laid back,” Sakkari says of the man who formerly coached Venus Williams and Jessica Pegula. “That’s what I need, because I’m very hard on myself. So I just need someone that, you know, he doesn’t stress me, and that’s what David does really well. Obviously has, you know, an incredible experience on the tennis side.

“On the mental side, I just feel like he’s just very, very relaxed. That’s what I really like. As I said, he’s so funny that I just enjoy my time with him on and off the court. He’s bonding really well with the rest of the team, which is a very important thing, because we spend a lot of time with each other. You know, we created a very nice team the last few days.”

Maria Sakkari survives Emma Navarro with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 win in almost three hours to reach the semifinals in Indian Wells for the 3rd consecutive year.

Runner up in 2022
Semifinalist in 2023
Semifinalist* in 2024

9th WTA 1000 SF

Good start with David Witt.

— José Morgado (@josemorgado) March 15, 2024

The 28-year-old Greek, currently No.9 in the world, still has a shot to recapture her former glory – and she believes she can.

“I want to improve,” Sakkari said. “I got to No. 3 and I just feel like I can get better. There are a couple of girls that have made an extra step in their careers, and I just want to try and catch them. “By working with David, I feel like I can do that. I just feel like I have the athletic abilities. Mentally I can improve, of course, and tennis-wise, it’s not like I need to change my game. It’s just that I need to add a couple of things.”

Asked if she felt her game has been stagnant over the last few years, Sakkari replied:

“A little bit, I would say. Not blaming anyone, of course, blaming only myself,” she said. “I just feel like just trying, you know, new things and trying to, you know, be better and improve, you know. I really believe I have a good chance on just getting back to that level and giving myself the best chance to become, you know, one of the best players again.

“Not that top 10 is a bad thing, but, you know, just better than that.”

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