Daria Kasatkina vs Naomi Osaka: Indian Wells final preview and prediction
- Author: Lawrence Cooper Mar 19, 2018,
Mar 19, 2018, 4:05
Unseeded Osaka came into the clash as the lowest ranked Indian Wells semi-finalist since Kim Clijsters in 2005, but overcame world No 1 Halep 6-3 6-0, winning nine straight games from 3-3 in the first set to dump the top seed out of the competition.
"Basically she was much better today than me, so she really deserved to win", Kasatkina said of Osaka.
"I'm a bit exhausted", she said after the 2hr 50min encounter.
"But I'm really glad I was able to finish on my serve instead of having to break her or something like that". You're in a night session, you're playing against a legend and you are in the third set.
That is not to say that Osaka does not move well and has shifted her game style from being a powerful counter-puncher to a more aggressive baseliner. She pushed herself past the finish line, though I think that if Halep converted even one break, Osaka would have felt significant pressure right away. "I knew that in one moment if I will lose focus just for a second, they will come back and then the big battle, five hours again, will start".
When asked in the postmatch press conference how she has summoned the mental strength to play with such maturity and confidence over the past six months, the most successful run of her young career, Kasatkina, 17 years Williams' junior, credited her Russian upbringing. It was really tough match, so...
Neither Kasatkina nor Osaka have much experience in big matches, with the latter's only career final coming in Tokyo in 2016.
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"[After a] match like this, you're just speechless", she said.
Osaka beat the current No. 1 player on the WTA Tour, 26-year-old Simona Halep, by hitting harder and smarter and dispatching the sulking Romanian in two quick sets.
Kasatinka will now have Saturday to recover before facing either Halep, who holds a 3-1 lead in their previous four meetings, or Osaka, who she has never played before.
"Maybe, yeah, from the side or with the score it looks like it was simple, but of course it's not", Kasatkina said.
"It feels a little bit lonely, because there's, like, nobody here", Osaka told the media in Indian Wells.
She already has a WTA title to her name, winning Charleston in her debut final a year ago before losing to Julia Goerges in Moscow.
Next up for Federer is Borna Coric of Croatia, who upset No. 7 seed Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3) for his first win in four tries against the South African.