The first shocking result of the 2018 WTA Season arrived upon us, after the 2017 US Open quarterfinalist Kaia Kanepi continued to make some noise on her comeback trail, this time ousting the talented Daria Kasatkina in the opening round of the Brisbane International. The Estonian surprisingly blew the Russian off the court, triumphing 6-2, 6-2 after just over an hour of play.
The last time they met was in the fourth round of the US Open where Kasatkina missed out on a last eight spot as Kanepi’s aggressive tennis was just too much for the youngster to handle. Unexpectedly, Kasatkina did not find a new approach against the same opponent and instead made the same mistakes which allowed Kanepi to stroll to the win. The Estonian will now face the dangerous Lesia Tsurenko in the second round and owns a fair chance to progress to the quarterfinals.
One-sided first set goes the way of Kanepi
Three quick service holds opened the match and both players looked untouchable on their serves, but it was Kanepi who managed to make the first breakthrough. Kasatkina’s second serves were too vulnerable, allowing the hard-hitting underdog to grab the opening break.
It was a poor start for the Russian, who had absolutely no rhythm on her shots and was making too many unforced errors. The play was dictated by Kanepi, and she controlled the proceedings as she easily consolidated the break for a commanding 4-1 lead. A one-sided match ensued when Kasatkina faced another break point on her serve, but a couple of good serves and impressive forehands allowed the youngster to barely hang in there.
Despite being unable to convert the break point, Kanepi remained composed and continued to swing freely, ultimately claiming the opening set 6-2 after just 32 minutes of play. The world number 100 lost just six points on her serve, one behind her first serves and not facing any break points.
High-quality tennis from Kanepi
Riding on her momentum, Kanepi looked on course for the comfortable victory after powering to a huge lead. However, the momentum seemed to have shifted hands after Kasatkina produced a monstrous forehand on her first break point in the match, breaking straight back.
Nonetheless, Kanepi was still rocking her aggressive play, steamrolling past the out-of-sorts Kasatkina within a blink of an eye. Conceding just five points on the return, Kanepi found herself serving for the match at 5-1 up. Nerves struck at the critical moment, as she threw in consecutive double-faults and allowed Kasatkina a way back into the set. The Russian’s struggles on serve continued — having held her serve just twice — and eventually fell 2-6, 2-6 after just 67 minutes, putting in a poor performance while Kanepi was flawless amid her wobble at the end.