US Open Day 6 | Kasatkina takes out Ostapenko
At the US Open on Saturday, Daria Kasatkina dispatched the French Open Champion, Jelena Ostapenko, the 12th-seed, 6-3 6-2, and moved into the fourth round of a Grand Slam event for the first time in her career.
The Latvian, who broke into the limelight in June when she blasted her way to the Roland Garros title, got off to a fast start on the temporary Louis Armstrong Stadium, but the unseeded Kasaktina mixed her game with sliced backhands and chopped forehands to slow her opponent down.
In the beginning I was a little bit nervous but I tried to stay focused and play my game and it paid off, Daria Kasaktina
The plan worked as, after winning the first three games, Ostapenko grew frustrated and bowed out when she netted a backhand on the second match point at the end of a lung-busting rally.
That match point was an epic 29-shot rally that ended when Ostapenko, who had complained of nausea and illness during the match, netted her routine backhand.
Kasatkina ran off 11 straight games en route to her definitive victory.
Ostapenko had beaten her in their first two head-to-head encounters, but Kasatkina turned the tables in their most important prior match, the final of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston in April of this year.
It was more of the same on Armstrong on Saturday.
At the start of the match, though, it had looked like it was going to be one-way traffic for Ostapenko.
Kasatkina served first, and quickly lost her initial service game with a double fault on break point.
Ostapenko then raced out to a double-break, 3-0 lead in the match.
She opened the match by effectively hitting her powerful groundstrokes from both sides, which her opponents at the French Open became heartbreakingly familiar with earlier this summer.
Then came a turnaround in the match, which was sudden and overwhelming.
Kasatkina started to dial back her unforced errors, and focused on trying to draw errors from the Latvian, particularly off of her fantastic slice backhand.
She got back on serve at 3-2, as her strategy paid off and the unforced errors began to flow off of the racket of Ostapenko.
In a matter of minutes, she had won five straight games to serve for the set at 5-3.
Kasatkina faced two break points in that game, but Ostapenko lost them with more unforced errors, and then provided another forehand unforced error on Kasatkina’s second set point.
The solid play by the unseeded Russian, 8 winners and only 7 unforced errors, put her up a set to the good.
Kasatkina, the World No 38, raced out to a 5-0 lead in the second set, as the 12th seed still could not control her errors – she eventually finished the match with 38 of them.
At this point, the Russian’s streak had extended to 11 straight games won, and it seemed imminent that Ostapenko would receive a dreaded second-set bagel.
It was here that Ostapenko added more margin to her shots, and though she blitzed through the French Open draw with her all-or-nothing tactics, she was helped in this match by more judicious play.
She claimed her first game of the second set with a backhand winner off the net cord, and then held for 5-2 with her only ace of the match.
At the end, it was Kasatkina who pulled it together, and a fabulous 30-shot rally on her second match point, which featured hard hitting off both wings by Ostapenko and a drop shot and a lob by Kasatkina, went the Russian’s way when the French Open champion fired a backhand into the net.
“In the beginning I was a little bit nervous but I tried to stay focused and play my game and it paid off,” said Kasaktina later.
She now faces another power hitter: qualifier Kaia Kanepi, who is currently ranked No 418, but has a career-high ranking of World No15, and has five Grand Slam quarter-final appearances to her credit.
Kanepi ousts Osaka in marathon
Naomi Osaka’s surprising run at the US Open ended in the third round on Saturday.
Osaka, the 19-year-old from Japan who stunned defending champion Angelique Kerber in the first round, lost to Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi 6-3 2-6 7-5.
In a see-saw battle on Court 5, Kanepi outlasted the Japanese to book her place in the US Open’s last 16.
Kanepi, the former world No 15, out-steadied her opponent to put a fire under her recent comeback from injury.
She eased to a break in the opening game, thanks to four unforced errors from Osaka, whose high-risk game was not clicking early.
After escaping two break points in game four, Kanepi’s confidence grew, and she would drop just one point on serve the rest of the set.
Osaka was plagued by 18 unforced errors throughout set one and gifted away the opening stanza with three consecutive forehand misses.
If that was deflating for Osaka, Kanepi piled on the misery by racing to a love hold to start set two.
Frustration started to boil over as 30-love became 30-all on the Osaka serve, and Kanepi seemed poised to take a stranglehold on the match.
Instead Osaka buckled down, fighting through deuce to level the set at 1-all.
She was further rewarded for her grit with a break in the ensuing game – her first of the match – as she was able to attack a slew of second serves to pull ahead.
Osaka would go on to break three times in the second set on seven opportunities, and the back-and-forth affair would continue into a third set, where the twists and turns continued.
Kanepi saw an early 2-0 advantage quickly evaporate in the face of four straight games from Osaka.
The 19-year-old had game points on serve to stretch her lead to 5-3, but Kanepi found a way to level things at 4-4 to turn the match on its head once more.
The Estonian never looked back from there, wrapping up the two-hour match with a decisive break when an Osaka backhand sailed long.
This US Open is just Kanepi’s fourth event of the year.
Returning from a one-year layoff due to a back injury, she came into the tournament without a WTA tour level win in 2017.
Due to various injuries in recent years, the former world No 15 currently finds herself ranked at No 446 and got into the Open draw through qualifying.
While she is a five-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist, she has not made the last 16 as a Slam since the 2014 US Open.
The 32-year-old will now face Daria Kasatkina for a chance to match her 2010 run to the quarter-finals in New York.