10th seed Sloane Stephens took care of 14th seed Daria Kasatkina by a 6-3, 6-1 score in the quarterfinals of the 2018 French Open. The reigning U.S. Open champion needed just 66 minutes to reach the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the first time.
Kasatkina had notched one of the biggest wins of her career in the previous round, defeating second seed Caroline Wozniacki, but she was unable to deal with the pressure of the moment, losing eight of the last nine games after clawing back from an early 4-1 first set deficit.
American closes out first set after two-game wobble
Playing with the same sustained aggression that propelled her to her first Grand Slam title at last year's U.S. Open, Stephens looked in command of the points from the start. Kasatkina, clearly nervous in her first major quarterfinal, struggled to match the American’s pace, and her loose errors earned Stephens the first break in the fifth game for a 4-1 lead.
The Russian eventually settled into the match, holding comfortably and grabbing the break back to put herself on even terms at 4-3. But she couldn’t curb Stephens’ momentum, and the American broke again in the eighth game and served out the opening set with ease.
Stephens runs away with the second set to reach the semifinals
Kasatkina started the second set strongly, holding and applying a bit of pressure on the Stephens serve. The Russian again began spraying errors and it cost her as she was broken in the third game.
Playing with confidence, the American broke again for a 4-1 lead and soon thereafter closed out the match after a hold and another break. The victory was Stephens' 12th in her last 13 matches at a major as she sets up a clash with Madison Keys in the last four.
Stephens addresses the press following her victory
Following the match, Stephens told the media “I thought I played pretty solid. I knew that every time you go into a match there are a little bit of nerves that go into it. I knew I had to come out and keep swinging.
“Sometimes I start well and sometimes a little sluggish. I knew I needed to keep swinging no matter what, even if it was very close, so that's what I did. And when I got my opportunity to break, I was like, ‘It's go time.’”
Speaking about playing Keys, her best friend, she said “when we get on the court, it's time to compete. But before that, we are not going to be weird and awkward and make it, like, weird for each other.
“I think everything will be normal. And then when we get on the court, it's time to compete. It's go time. Until then, we're the same girls as always.”
She went on to add that “to have two Americans in the semifinals of the French Open, I think, is pretty incredible. That means one American will be in the final of a French Open, which is another amazing thing. All in all, I don't think anyone can complain.”