WTA Indian Wells: Daria Kasatkina eases past US Open champion Sloane Stephens

It was a terrific performance from Daria Kasatkina as the Russian youngster continued to break new grounds, defeating world number 13 Sloane Stephens in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.

WTA Indian Wells: Daria Kasatkina eases past US Open champion Sloane Stephens
Daria Kasatkina will now face Caroline Wozniacki in the next round | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America
Daria Kasatkina
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Sloane Stephens

Daria Kasatkina earned yet another impressive victory as her amazing run continues at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open. Grabbing her fourth top-20 win in a month, the Russian is high on confidence and it certainly showed during her win over the world number 13 Sloane Stephens in their third-round match. Just needing an hour and 27-minutes, Kasatkina blasted past the US Open champion to set up a meeting with world number two Caroline Wozniacki.

Stephens came into the match with an excellent victory over former world number one Victoria Azarenka but fell victim to Kasatkina’s crafty play in straight sets. Furthermore, this win meant that the Russian has beaten all four reigning Major champions in the past few months, defeating Jelena Ostapenko at the US Open, Garbine Muguruza in Dubai earlier in February, Caroline Wozniacki at St. Petersburg and now Stephens in front of her home fans.

Daria Kasatkina strolled through the match without facing any huge problems other than her nerves | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America
Daria Kasatkina strolled through the match without facing any huge problems other than her nerves | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America

Kasatkina edges the tight first set

It was an extremely tight start to the match with both players looking at their best form. However, the first breakthrough came quickly in the fifth game as Kasatkina started to get aggressive and her fantastic controlled aggression display forced Stephens to make a couple of unforced errors which gifted her the first break.

Excellent consistency at the baseline saw Kasatkina control the proceedings as she possessed the power, and her net skills are certainly one of the best aspects of her game with Stephens struggling to find her groove. Losing eight of the past 10 points, Stephens found herself trailing by a double-break as Kasatkina earned the golden opportunity to serve out the set.

Sloane Stephens struggled to find her feet today | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America
Sloane Stephens struggled to find her feet today | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America

However, nerves started to have its effect on Kasatkina, and her inability to find her first serves caused her to panic and throw in a couple of uncharacteristic errors. Furthermore, she became more passive and allowed Stephens to tramp over her, winning two consecutive games to lessen the deficit. On Kasatkina’s second attempt to serve for the set, her monstrous forehands saved her from the brink as she had to retrieve from a 0-30 deficit to narrowly hold serve, claiming the first set 6-4 after just 39 minutes of play.

Kasatkina grabs the huge win

Riding on her momentum, Kasatkina continued to paint the lines and she produced an incredible passing forehand winner to get the break in the opening game. Leading by a set and a break, it was one-way traffic for the Russian youngster after she consolidated the break and even threatened to grab yet another break. Redirecting the pace has always been Kasatkina’s forte but Stephens was just able to eke out the tough service hold to get on board and keep herself in contention.

Daria Kasatkina celebrates her fourth top-20 victory in a month | Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America
Daria Kasatkina celebrates her fourth top-20 victory in a month | Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America

Kasatkina was impressively strolling through her service games, having lost just a total of five points behind her serve throughout the second set. Within a blink of an eye, Stephens soon found herself serving to stay in the match at 3-5 down. World-class defense from Kasatkina saw her earn a match point, which she dutifully converted with a powerful and bullet-like forehand winner, sealing the comfortable win after 86 minutes of play.