Russia’s Daria Kasatkina put in one of the best performances of the Wuhan Open so far on Tuesday, easing past second seed Simona Halep for the loss of just three games to record one of the best wins of her season.
Kasatkina had lost both her previous meetings to the world number two in straight sets, though broke four times to dominate the opening set and maintained that extremely high level in the second set, recording an astonishing 6-2, 6-1 in just an hour and 12 minutes against an opponent who often looked lost on court.
Halep had not been in action since her first round loss to Maria Sharapova at the US Open, and perhaps that lack of match practice showed as she was only able to hold serve once throughout the encounter. Meanwhile, the Russian, currently ranked 31st in the world, now has wins over both a world number one and two this season, having beaten Angelique Kerber twice earlier this year, and will face compatriot Ekaterina Makarova for a place in the last eight.
Kasatkina in control as she slides past world number two
Kasatkina, just 20 years of age, is widely recognized as one of the brightest young stars on the WTA, though very few would have expected her to beat Halep today, let alone drop just three games in one of the most complete performances of her burgeoning career.
It was in fact, Halep who got off to the better start, breaking the unseeded Russian in the opening game of the match, though Kasatkina immediately broke back and started to take control of the match, easing to a 4-1 lead as she began to overpower the Romanian. Kasatkina broke for the third time to put herself in the position to serve for the set, though Halep saved two set points to break back for 2-5; however, Kasatkina broke once again in the very next game to wrap up the opening set in fine style.
If the first set was good for Kasatkina, the second set proved to be even better. Halep finally managed to hold serve in the second game of set two, but that did not signal a reversal of fortune as the world number two continues to struggle immensely. The Russian broke for a 3-1 lead in the second set and showed no signs of nerves as she was able to consolidate and immediately break again for a 5-1 lead. She had had some troubles when serving in the opening set, though a forehand winner saw her serve out the encounter with very little trouble.
This was undoubtedly an authoritative performance by Kasatkina, who won a staggering 89 percent of points on Halep’s second serve, compared to a fairly solid 56 percent on her own second serves. Halep will next be in action at the China Open in Beijing, which takes place next week, whilst Kasatkina faces a tricky third round encounter against Makarova tomorrow.