Eastbourne | Kasatkina finally lifts a trophy 

Daria Kasatkina ended her run of defeats in WTA finals at the Rothesay International, the WTA 500 event in Eastbourne, where the Russian beat Canada’s Leylah Fernandez, 6-3 6-4, to lift the trophy on Saturday.

It's been a year, but it feels like only a few days since the final last time. It was a tough battle today. It's been a long road to the title but I am really proud. Daria Kasatkina

The 6th seed came into Saturday’s final with a 0-3 record in Hologic WTA Tour finals this season, having reached the finals in Charleston, Abu Dhabi, and Adelaide, while her latest win delivered her first title for 2 years.

“I just feel like I put down some very heavy backpack,” Kasatkina said. “Even though I understand that playing fourth final of the year, it’s a great achievement, still, if you don’t win, you have a very bitter feeling after that.

“It’s been a year, but it feels like only a few days since the final last time,” the 27-year-old said, who had lost in last year’s Eastbourne final to Madison Keys. “It was a tough battle today. It’s been a long road to the title but I am really proud.”

Kasatkina, who snapped a losing streak in 5 finals that saw her drop 10 consecutive sets, all at the WTA 500 level, broke the left-hander’s serve early, and then survived a marathon 20-minute game on her own serve midway through the first set before going on to claim the opener.

She moved 3-0 ahead in the second, but then former US Open runner-up Fernandez reeled off 4 games in a row to become a real threat.

Kasatkina steadied the ship, though, and pocketed the last 3 games to win her first title since Granby 2022.

“The second set, it’s been a roller coaster,” Kasatkina said. “Honestly didn’t feel great being 3-0 up, and then 3-4 down in five minutes, ten minutes. But I’m proud of myself how I stayed there, how I didn’t lose my mind, because was pretty easy, I was 3-4 down, returning with new balls against the wind.

“That could be a very tough moment, and it was a tough moment, but really happy how I overcome this situation.”

Daria Kasatkina (R) and Leylah Fernandez received their trophies from former multiple Eastbourne champion Martina Navratilova

© Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for LTA

The World No 14 improved her record to 3-0 over Fernandez, who was contesting her first grass-court final.

Ranked No 30, the Canadian, who came into Eastbourne off a confidence-boosting run the quarter-finals in Birmingham, toppled Czech 7th seed Barbora Krejcikova in the 1st-round and ended Madison Keys’ title defence in the semi-finals.

She struggled, though, facing Kasatkina’s clever all-court game, and could not break through the Russian’s serve until mid way through the second set, while she had trouble hanging onto her own throughout.

The No 6 seed broke Fernandez’s serve in the very first game, and then saved 3 break points in an 11-deuce game to hold for 4-2, before breaking again to seal the set.

After breaking Fernandez for a 2-0 lead in the second, Kasatkina saved 4 more break points to consolidate her lead to 3-0.

The Canadian proved her resilience to fight back and lead 4-3, but failed to hold her serve through the remainder of the 1 hour 50 minute championship match.

Overjoyed, Kasatkina rushed toward her team and her girlfriend, Natalia Zabiiako, who had cheered her on from the stands throughout the campaign, to celebrate.

Kasatkina converted 5 of 10 break points overall, and won 63% of her first-serve points to 51% for her Fernandez.

The victory marked Kasatkina’s 7th career WTA title, and her first on grass courts, and she now rises to No 12 in the rankings, and vaults to No 8 in the race to the WTA Finals, thanks to her title run here.

A thrilled Daria Kasatkina celebrates with her partner Natalia Zabiiako at Devonshire Park

© Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for LTA

In the trophy ceremony, the 27-year-old congratulated Fernandez and thanked her team and her girlfriend.

“Of course, thanks to my team,” she said. “Guys, it’s been a long road to the title but I’m really proud of [us]. I’m really proud for the work we put in, and the outcome. Thank you so much for being next to me, doesn’t matter how bad it is, how good it is.

“Thank you very much for being with me. Thanks to my coach, Flavio; thanks to my brother and fitness coach Alex, and thanks to my better half, Natasha. Thank you so much,” she added.

Zabiiako, too, shared her delight on social media. The Olympic pair skater has been Kasatkina’s biggest cheerleader since they made their relationship public in mid-2022.

“Champ,” she wrote on Instagram.

Kasatkina now heads to Wimbledon with a 6-1 record on grass this season, and an outstanding 33-17 career record on the soft turf, where she is seeded 14 and will face China’s Zhang Shuai in the 1st-round on Monday; while Fernandez is slated to face Lucia Bronzetti on Tuesday.

The Russian’s best result at The Championships is a quarter-final appearance in 2018.

Doubles champions Lyudmyla Kichenok & Jelena Ostapenko edged top seeds Gabriela Dabrowski & Erin Routliffe in the Rothesay International doubles final on Saturday

© Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for LTA

The women’s doubles final saw a thrilling battle unfold in which Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Kichenok & Jelena Ostapenko from Latvia edged top seeds Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski & Erin Routliffe from New Zealand, 5-7 7-6(2) [10-8], after an hour and 54 minutes, to win their 4th doubles title  together.

Kichenok & Ostapenko overturned a one set deficit to force a second set tiebreak where they broke their opponents twice to level the match.

After 9 breaks of serve in the match-deciding breaker, it was Kichenok & Ostapenko who held their nerve as the Latvian served out the win at the first time of asking.

A general view of play during the final between Daria Kasatkina and Leylah Fernandez at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne

© Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for LTA



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