Maria Sakkari falls to heavy defeat against Sorana Cirstea at Abu Dhabi Open

Greek third seed beaten 6-2, 6-1 in just 77 minutes on Stadium Court

Sorana Cirstea defeated Maria Sakkari in straight sets at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open on February 7, 2024. Pawan Singh / The National
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Maria Sakkari’s hopes of another deep run in Abu Dhabi were dashed at the first hurdle on Wednesday after the Greek third seed was convincingly beaten by Sorana Cirstea.

In an error-strewn performance, Sakkari fell to a 6-2, 6-1 defeat in a match lasting just 77 minutes. It adds to a difficult few weeks for the world No 9, who lost in the second round of the Australian Open having started the season well with three wins for Greece at the United Cup team event.

Sakkari never got going on Stadium Court and found herself 4-0 down before getting her first game on the board.

The second set was similarly one-sided as Romania’s Cirstea dominated and took full advantage of Sakkari’s struggles, breaking her opponent three times to wrap up a swift victory.

It was in sharp contrast to Sakkari’s previous visit to the city, when in 2021 at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open, she beat the likes of Coco Gauff, Garbine Muguruza, and Sofia Kenin en route to the semi-finals.

Cirstea, who fought back to beat former world No 4 Carolina Garcia in the first round, will take on Daria Kasatkina in the quarter-finals after the Russian seventh seed advanced from her match against American teenager Ashlyn Krueger 6-3, 7-5.

If Cirstea’s win over Sakkari was quick and breezy, the exact opposite was the case in the match immediately prior. Brazilian sixth seed Beatriz Haddad Maia required just 15 minutes short of four hours to secure her 7-6, 6-7, 6-1 victory over Poland’s Magda Linette.

Thursday will see the start of top seed Elena Rybakina’s tournament. The Kazakh world No 5 takes on American qualifier Danielle Collins, who impressed in her first-round win over four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka.

Their match will be the third on Stadium Court, which opens with Czech fourth seed Barbora Krejcikova taking on Spanish lucky loser Sara Sorribes Tormo. That is followed by Russian eighth seed Liudmila Samsonova against Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina.

Samsonova, a finalist in Abu Dhabi 12 months ago, had three match points to clinch the title last year and has started strong this week, dropping just one game in her first-round match against another Ukrainian, Lesia Tsurenko.

The concluding match of the day will be between lucky loser Cristina Bucsa of Spain against British qualifier Heather Watson, who in the first round secured one of her most impressive wins of recent seasons against Russian ninth seed – and a 2021 Abu Dhabi finalist – Veronika Kudermetova.

Updated: February 07, 2024, 4:54 PM