Maria Sakkari knows what's bothering her but no idea how to fix the issue

Sakkari suffered another sad early exit from the French Open but she is not sure how to remedy her problems.
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There is nothing wrong with Maria Sakkari physically. She is not injured currently, so her form should be good. But in the first round of the French Open, she lost to unseeded Varvara Gracheva even though the Greek won the first set. Sakkari appeared to be playing well until she was, well...not.

Sakkari is currently the WTA No. 7 and has been ranked as high as No. 3. She is always a threat to go deep in a tournament, but she rarely wins one. The 28-year-old has only won two tournaments in her professional life. If her physical fitness is not the issue, then her mental focus must be, right?

That is what the Greek believes, but the issue is she does not know how to correct the problem. For the second-straight year, she lost in the opening round of the French Open even though she is, historically, a good clay court player. One of her titles, the Rabat Open, was on clay. She even made the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2021.

Maria Sakkari gets honest about her struggles during matches

Sakkari has gotten a reputation for being a good player who cannot close out tournaments. She has made the finals of 10 events, so she has only won 20 percent of the chances she has had to hold a trophy. She has also had a bunch of shock defeats as she has only made the semis two different times at Grand Slams. In 2023, she was bounced out of the first round at the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.

A physical injury might be easier to deal with emotionally as long as the injury is not a long-term concern. If Sakkari had a wrist injury or ankle issue, at least she could blame her early exits at Grand Slams on that. Instead, she has a greater concern. She appears to take herself out of matches, even before they begin, mentally.

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After losing at the French Open to Gracheva, Sakkari told Greek website SDNA, "It’s the first time I don’t know what to say...I’ve been very well these days. It was very sudden for me too, I started feeling intense anxiety before the match...No matter what set I played, no matter what practice I did, everyone could see that I was fine. It’s definitely psychological, purely. It’s nothing else...It’s purely psychological, I’m not hiding."

Sakkari comes across as a very nice person who cares about her fellow players. She is also likely closer to the end of her career than the beginning. Hopefully, whatever her issue is, she can correct the problem and reach the final of a Grand Slam before she retires.

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