WTA Rome: Daria Kasatkina forced to retire with a potential serious ankle injury; Strycova moves on
Barbora Strycova moves on to the second round | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The 2017 Internazionali BNL D’Italia was kicked off with the blockbuster first round match between consistent Top 25 player Barbora Strycova and the young rising star Daria Kasatkina, being played as the first match on the Pietrangeli court. The match ended in a way no one would have wished to see as Kasatkina rolled her ankle, being forced to retire in the middle of the second set after winning the first.

Kasatkina steals the first set

Kasatkina had the perfect start to the match as some excellent offensive play brought her four straight points and the first break of the match, jumping out to an early lead. However, she was immediately pegged back as Strycova exploited her weak serve, breaking straight back to love and returning level on the scoreboard. The Czech then had the chance to regain the lead in the fourth game as she earned a break point, but a huge forehand winner from the Russian saved the nervy point and eventually helped her to narrowly hold her serve.

Daria Kasatkina in action | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe
Daria Kasatkina in action | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe

With her footwork doing its job and helping Kasatkina excel on clay, the youngster utilized her underrated topspin forehands to make the breakthrough once again, forcing Strycova to make an error on break point in the seventh game as she regained the lead once more. The Russian had some troubles trying to consolidate the break after having to fend off three break points in the next game, eventually prevailing in the marathon 18-points game to be just a game away from the victory. Despite Strycova holding her serve comfortably to stay in the set, Kasatkina managed to successfully serve out the set after saving yet another break point in the process, sealing the first set after a lengthy 58 minutes.

Kasatkina injures herself

Strycova looked to make a comeback in the second set as she earned a straightforward service hold in the opening game, but Kasatkina proved that she could do better by following suit in the next game. It was the Russian who made the first breakthrough in the second set as she carried over the momentum from the first set, hitting an amazing passing shot on break point to take the lead. However, Kasatkina failed to back up that breakthrough when she lost her serve just in the next game, allowing Strycova to return back level.

Barbora Strycova in action | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe
Barbora Strycova in action | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe

After an exchange of service holds, it seemed like Kasatkina would break serve once more as she went up 0-40 in the seventh game. On her third break point, the Russian shockingly rolled her ankle and was looking very distressed. Even after having two medical timeouts in the game did not help as Kasatkina broke down into tears, eventually being unable to continue with the match as she was forced to retire from the match despite everything going well for her thus far. It was truly a pity for the Russian, who looked on course for a first WTA clay court victory this year.