Teen star Daria Kasatkina earns first finals berth at Volvo Car Open
Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina heaved a sigh of relief on Saturday afternoon.
Kasatkina, 19, reached her first WTA Tour final with a 3-6 6-2, 6-1 comeback victory over German veteran Laura Siegemund on a brilliant afternoon at Volvo Car Stadium on Daniel Island.
“Finally, I’m in a final,” Kasatkina told the crowd.
Kasatkina, ranked No. 42 and twice a winner over No. 1 Angelique Kerber this year, will face either fellow teenager Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia or Croatian veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in Sunday’s final.
Siegemund, who describes her game as “crafty shots and courage,” demonstrated both in a 3-hour, 3-set win over Venus Williams this week, fighting off two match points. But her array of slices and drop shots did not have staying power against Kasatkina, who is 4-0 in her career against the 29-year-old German.
Siegemund, ranked No. 37, overcame an early break in the first set and snapped off a backhand winner at set point to take the first set.
Kasatkina called for her coach early in the second set, and TV cameras picked up Vladimir Platenik urging on, saying, “You’re getting killed!” Kasatkina slammed down her towel, but seemed to take the words to heart.
“When I’m frustrated and at a loss on the court, I call him and say, ‘Put me on the right way,’” said Kastakina, one of five teens in the WTA top 50.
Kasatkina began mixing up her shots, taking some pace off her usual powerful groundstrokes and chasing Siegemund around the court. Kasatkina had five break points in the sixth game before getting to the net for a putaway volley and a 4-2 lead, then broke Siegemund again to force a third set.
“She just played it clever,” Siegemund said. “She didn’t have solutions in the first set, and then the coach came out, obviously gave her some good advice, playing moon balls. And she played really clever. I have to give that credit to her. And in the end she picked it up again, gave me long ways to run, and yeah, my game just ... just not good, the footwork, and then you start to miss a few.”
Kasatkina rocketed to a 4-0 lead (and winning eight straight games) before Siegemund called for a trainer. Siegemund laid down on a towel as the trainer worked on the back of her right leg. Kasatkina, annoyed at the timing of the medical timeout, hit serves to stay loose.
Her leg heavily taped, Siegemund immediately earned three break points, but a glaring Kasatkina came back from 0-40 to hold serve, win her ninth straight game and take a commanding 5-0 lead.
“Then I was down 0-40 on my serve and I thought, ‘Okay, you plan worked,’” Kasatkina said.
Siegemund, who lost 10 of the last 11 games, showed her frustration when she snapped at a ballgirl late in the match, which last two hours and 18 minutes.