Maria Sakkari battled past Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek in three sets to reach the second round of the Adelaide International on Monday and kick off the new WTA season.
The 26-year-old world number six Greek was on court for just over two hours before seeing off Zidansek 6-2, 0-6, 6-4.
Sakkari, admitted she had been well below her best as she warms-up for the Australian Open later this month.
“I didn’t feel great to be perfectly honest,” she said.
“It wasn’t a good match from my side but I found a way through it, I did everything I had to do to win -which sometimes is enough- and I’m excited to be in the second round.”
Third seed, Sakkari will now play either American Shelby Rogers or a qualifier.
“I want to be ready for the next match and yes, I am here to win this tournament but my main goal is to be prepared for the Australian Open.”
Asked whether she will participate in the upcoming Sydney Tennis Classic, Sakkari said it all depends on how far she will progress at the Adelaide International.
“I am not confident with moving states due to COVID so at this point we will try not to take unnecessary risks.”
Last year apart from making two Grand Slam semifinals, Sakkari debuted at the WTA Finals, broke into the top-10 for the first time in her career and was also announced Greece’s best female athlete.
Conveying her message to the youngsters who look up to her, the World No 6 says that she owes a lot to her team and to the values her parents instilled to her.
“Growing up, my parents taught me that no matter how far I reach in my career I need to be myself and remain humble. I am where because of those values and hard work.”
In 2021 Sakkari enjoyed the best season of her career at the age of 26 and now she definitely has started the season right in Australia with the Greek community by her side.
“It feels amazing. Wherever I go in Australia I see Greek people who appreciate what we have achieved so far and admire us. It’s great,” Sakkari concluded.