Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

February 18- March 2, 2024
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 18- March 2, 2024
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 20, 2024

Maria Sakkari – R2 Press Conference – 2024 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

2024 Women's Singles R32: M. SAKKARI/E. Navarro 6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: We’ll go straight to questions.

Q. How big a win was that for you?

MARIA SAKKARI: I mean, I’m glad you understand the difference between wins.

Of course, it was very big. Coming here, I was scared not losing another first round (smiling). Especially playing against her, it was always going to be very tough because she’s in top form right now. She played a very close match against Elena last week. She won many matches.

I’m very happy I managed to play at least a better level than the last couple weeks.

Q. You’ve struggled in this tournament: 0-3. Was that on your mind? Is there something about the conditions you don’t like?

MARIA SAKKARI: You know what, I think before we used to use different balls. Those balls didn’t suit so much my game in the court. But I also played very good opponents. I played Krejcikova the year she made the final. She won twice here or once?

Q. Last year she won, but also a final.

MARIA SAKKARI: I played Pliskova on Court 1, which was lightning fast. Sabalenka… I mean, I had tough draws. At the same time I feel like this year with different balls, a little bit slower conditions, it suits better my game.

Q. I’ve been asking players about some rule changes. You have to play more mandatories…

MARIA SAKKARI: Yes, unfortunately.

Q. I want to know what is your view on that? What’s the tricky part of it or is it not as bad as people think it is?

MARIA SAKKARI: I don’t know the tournaments. That’s confusing. I haven’t sat down to see what mandatories count. I know it’s very complicated.

What I know is that we have to play 20 mandatory tournaments this year, including the slams. So it’s four slams, six 500s and 10 1000s. If you don’t play, you get a zero in your ranking. That’s the only thing I know.

Trust me, we had plenty calls. Top 20, top 10, we were all against that. They didn’t have any other choice, apparently.

Q. Do you understand the view they’re trying to have the best product on the court?

MARIA SAKKARI: Yeah, I’m aware of that and I’m supportive. I’m saying at least we should be allowed to skip one mandatory tournament. Like Monte-Carlo for the guys, it’s not mandatory but it’s a 1000. Just to have the choice.

Especially this year with Olympics, it’s going to be a very tough year. If the player that plays the final in Olympics, or even the third and fourth place, doesn’t want to go and play in Canada two days later. At least we should be allowed to skip one. It makes it very tough.

At the end everyone plays everything. At least we could have the choice. That’s what I’m saying.

Q. I wanted to know how important this event is for you in terms of the season.

MARIA SAKKARI: I mean, it’s a Masters 1000. It’s very important for everyone. As I said on the court, it was my first win ever here in Dubai. I think I only won one qualifying match many years ago. I was really hoping for things to be different this year.

For example, it was the same in Indian Wells a few years back. The year I made the final, it was the first year I ever won a match there. So things can easily change.

I’m just very happy that I managed to get today’s win.

Q. What’s the reputation of the event amongst the players?

MARIA SAKKARI: Everyone likes it. It’s one of the best tournaments of the season. It’s very convenient for us ’cause courts and hotel are next to each other, which it does really make a difference.

But everything, the organization, the food, the hospitality, it’s just very, very good.

Q. What are your main goals for this season?

MARIA SAKKARI: Well, I would like to finish in the top eight, for sure. Maybe top five, as well. Long way to go. I’m not even thinking about that because I’m far away from that at the moment.

We still have so many tournaments. Things can easily change in just one week.

Q. How have you been able to cope with that, going out in the early rounds? How satisfying is it finally to get a win today?

MARIA SAKKARI: Yeah, it was tough. It wasn’t easy. Especially after the United Cup, I was playing very good tennis. I think going into Australian Open, I went with very high expectations tennis-wise. I’ve done that mistake a few times already. Hopefully one day I’ll learn (smiling).

Yeah, it wasn’t easy. As I said, season is long and we still have three more Grand Slams, so many 1000s. It only takes one week for things to just turn around and get better.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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