Daria Kasatkina reached just her second WTA semifinal of the year after earning a straightforward 6-4, 6-3 victory over the dangerous Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup, putting on a clinical display of impressive tennis to seal the win within just an hour and 24 minutes. Kasatkina enters the last four without losing a set and is now the favorite to reach the final in front of her home crowd.
Kasatkina overcomes slow start
Sasnovich’s clean groundstrokes surfaced early in the match, and her indoor-suited game proved to be able to trouble Kasatkina as the Russian youngster faced some early nerves in the opening game in front of the home crowd. Nonetheless, the home favorite was able to serve an ace en route to holding serve in the tight opening game, earning the confident, yet nervy start. It turned out that Sasnovich would rue missing those break points as she was immediately broken in the next game, with Kasatkina slowly finding her groove as she settled into the atmosphere and conditions.
The Russian extends her lead
The Russian continued to win the important points as she prevailed in a third consecutive game which went to deuce, consolidating the break with her much improved first serve being crucial. Sasnovich started to lose the plot, losing the rhythm in her usually-consistent baseline game as Kasatkina took a double-break lead, looking extremely comfortable on her home ground. The Belarusian finally got onto the scoreboard after she retrieved one of the breaks back, with an abundance of unforced errors starting to come off Kasatkina’s racquet.
Sasnovich produces improbable comeback but Kasatkina claims the first set
However, Kasatkina was able to power herself to a 5-1 lead with some excellent selective aggression, earning the golden opportunity to serve out the set. The pressure and nerves seemed to have overwhelmed the Russian as the cheers from the crowd only seemed to worsen the situation for Kasatkina, as her lead was minimized to just one game within a blink of an eye. Serving to stay in the set, Sasnovich was unable to fend off the fresh-minded Kasatkina, who just had an encouraging on-court coaching session with coach Philippe Dehaes, with the Russian eventually clinching the first set 6-4.
Tight start to the second set
Sasnovich was determined to produce a comeback, and she was one step closer to doing so after breaking serve in the opening game to take the early lead in the second set. However, Kasatkina was quick to regain her composure and return on serve. Under her new coach, the Russian was taught to be more aggressive and focused on the point, which obviously reflected on the scoreboard as she was able to impress the crowd with her aggressive counter-punching tennis, soon jumping out to a formidable 3-1 lead.
Kasatkina breaks through and takes the win
An exchange of service breaks soon made this encounter unpredictable, but Kasatkina was the more consistent player on the court as she was able to consolidate the break for a commanding 5-2 lead, being just a game away from the routine victory. Coming from 0-40 down, the Russian played some impressive tennis as she displayed some incredible defensive skills to claim five consecutive points and clinched the win after an hour and 24 minutes of play.