Daria Kasatkina is proving to be the major giant killer this year as she stormed into the semi-finals of the WTA Mandatory event at Indian Wells.
The 20-year-old Russian who has already eliminated the Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki in the previous round and the US Open champion Sloane Stephens earlier in the week, swept past the two-time grand slam champion, Angelique Kerber for the loss of just two games.
I have been practicing hard to do what I did on court today, and to stay really calm, so I am not surprised I was able to play so well Daria Kasatkina
It was definitely one-way traffic as far as Kasatkina was concerned as she outwitted and outplayed the German who proved to be too erratic as she tried to stem the young Russian’s game.
As an upset it was major for while Kerber, seeded 10, might not be the force she was a couple of years ago, she had been rebuilding her game successfully over recent months and still has one of the best defensive games but all to no avail on this occasion as, after 57-minutes, she crashed out 6-0 6-2.
“I am pretty happy with my game, it wasn’t like cruising, but I was doing the right things to win,” a delighted Kasatkina, grinning broadly, said. “I have been practicing hard to do what I did on court today, and to stay really calm, so I am not surprised I was able to play so well”.
In contrast a dejected Kerber admitted: “It’s difficult for me to play against her. I couldn’t find my rhythm, I made a lot of mistakes, and the conditions were tricky. It was the first match of the day, and during warm-up the court was wet. In the end, it just wasn’t my day”.
Now Kasatkina will have to face one of the most experienced players on the tour, namely the seven-time grand slam champion Venus Williams who survived a better contested match against Carla Suarez Navarro with the Spaniard’s lighter game being crushed by the more powerful one from the American.
Suarez Navarro had her chances in the second set but failed to grasp the opportunities and eventually conceded the match 6-3 6-2.
“I’ve been playing well for a while, since before this tournament” the 37-year-old Williams said after her win. “I haven’t been doing much in the Coachella Valley except coming to and from the tennis. That’s a good problem because it means you’re winning matches. I don’t want to be too much of a tourist here because it means you’ve lost”.
She added: “We’ve had a lot of great matches and I was glad that I was able to close it out.”
When facing Kasatkina, Williams, who is seeded eighth, will need all her experience as she has already been beaten once by the Russian, in a tough three-setter in Auckland back in 2016. Williams did get the better of her at Wimbledon later that year in what was another three-setter.
It should be a great semi and there is the possibility of two 20-year-olds competing for the title with the in-form Naomi Osaka taking on Simona Halep in the top half of the draw.