Daria Kasatkina had a bittersweet victory over Katerina Siniakova, who was forced to retire, in her opening match at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open as she put up an impressive display of controlled aggression and the superb consistency from the world number 19 allowed her to seal a spot in the third round, where she would either face Sloane Stephens or Victoria Azarenka — and either of them would be a tough opponent.
Kasatkina was leading Siniakova 6-2, 5-2 before the Czech, who was struggling with a thigh injury, opted to retire from the match lest she further aggravates the injury. The Russian, off a run to the final in Dubai, looked in great form and earned her ninth win of 2018.
Kasatkina breezes through the one-sided first set
Siniakova came into the match firing, with her serves working really well as Kasatkina was unable to handle her pace in the opening game — allowing the Czech to earn the love service hold. However, that would be an incorrect premonition for the flow of the match, as Kasatkina started finding her groove and claiming 12 of the next 14 points without facing many problems.
Reaching the final in Dubai, Kasatkina was high on confidence and played with initiative and purpose, being more aggressive in her game. However, her serve is a huge liability as Siniakova was able to pounce on them and get on the offense, and the world number 48 earned break points in the sixth game, getting the perfect opportunity to return level.
A big forehand winner from the Russian youngster saved her from the brink, extending her lead to 5-2 as she narrowly held serve before Siniakova crumbled on her serve once more. The Czech started to produce a series of errors, and she would rue all those missed opportunities as Kasatkina yet again fended off a bunch of break points to serve out the first set 6-2 after just 29 minutes.
Kasatkina ousts Siniakova as the Czech is forced to retire
Everything was going right for Kasatkina as she looked on course to claim the straightforward victory. Leading by a set and a break, the Russian was unexpectedly broken for the first time in the match as Siniakova started going for her shots, charging towards the net more often. The change in tactics proved to be effective, converting on her ninth break point in the match.
Siniakova then took a medical time-out before the third game commenced, and the right thigh was heavily strapped as the Czech’s movement seemed to be hindered by this issue. Stunningly, five consecutive breaks came and gone, before Kasatkina was finally able to consolidate a break after being brought to deuce. One game later, Siniakova was broken for the fifth consecutive time, and she found herself trailing 2-5 in the second set. There, she made the decision to retire from the match, allowing Kasatkina to progress onto the third round after just an hour and 13-minutes.