Despite the ankle injury she had suffered in Rome, Daria Kasatkina is coming to Paris as the 26th seed with good odds on her, and a good chance to improve her record in majors. With clay notably being her favorite surface, the 20-year-old will look for good results at Roland Garros, especially after the hard loss that stopped her in the third round last year.
Notable results to date
Kasatkina made a good start to her 2017 campaign, winning her opening match against Irina-Camelia Begu in Brisbane to face Garbiñe Muguruza in the second round, in a close battle booked by the Spaniard only in the final set tiebreak.
She then moved to Sydney, where she met Angelique Kerber in the second round, and defeated her with a 7-6(5), 6-2 score, marking her third career top-10 win and her first ever victory over a world number one.
Her Australian campaign ended with a disappointing first-round loss to Peng Shuai.
In Doha, she faced Kerber one more time, and for the second time in a row she defeated her, this time in three sets; reached her second quarterfinal of the year, however, she lost to Olympic Champion Monica Puig.
After a moment of struggle, in which she suffered three straight losses - in Dubai, Indian Wells (where she was defending a quarterfinal) and Miami - she moved to Charleston.
On the green clay, she reached the first ever WTA final in singles, meeting fellow teen Jelena Ostapenko in the first all-teen WTA final since 2009. It was the Russian who won the battle, defeating her opponent with a 6-3, 6-1 scoreline and successfully putting her name on her first career WTA title.
Clay court results leading up to Roland Garros
Kasatkina’s clay court season started in the best way possible in Charleston. Prior to her final win over Ostapenko, she had brilliantly started her campaign with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Danka Kovinic in the first round.
She then needed three sets to defeat Puig, paying her back for the loss in Doha, and then got the best of her friend and doubles partner Daria Gavrilova to reach the quarterfinals.
She faced Begu for the third time this year, and won the third match in a row against the Romanian, before facing and defeating clay-court specialist and future Stuttgart champion Laura Siegemund in the semifinals, rallying back from a set down.
After the trophy in South Carolina, however, Kasatkina’s clay season didn’t continue as positively.
She suffered a first-round loss against Elena Vesnina in Stuttgart, and lost a match full of up-and-downs against Roberta Vinci in Madrid - ended with a final 1-6, 6-1, 1-6 score.
In Rome, she took on Barbora Strycova in the opening match, but had been forced to retire from a set up, after rolling her ankle during her game. Luckily, the fall wouldn’t seem to put at risk Kasatkina’s presence in Paris.
Best French Open result
2014 French Open Junior champion, Kasatkina had only competed once in the main tournament, making her debut in the main draw in 2016. In the first two rounds, she defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam and Virginie Razzano, both in three sets, before meeting eventual semifinalist Kiki Bertens in the third round. The hard-fought match had shown a limit from Kasatkina in closing out tight matches, that had caused her many heartbreaking loss different times in her still-early career. From a set down, Kasatkina rallied back to win the second set 6-3, but eventually fell to her opponent with a 10-8 score in the decider.
How Kasatkina's game translates to the surface
Clay is surely the most suitable surface for the Russian’s playing style. She is a good mover and a smart attacker, and has a play rich in changes of rhythm, in which she takes advantage of the rallies to open up the court and score points. Since she’s not a big server or powerful hitter, a slower surface like clay is ideal for her to patiently extend the rallies and constructing the points.
Kasatkina will start her French Open campaign against Yanina Wickmayer.