Kasatkina Reaches Third WTA Final Of Year At Charleston Open

Daria Kasatkina (photo: Charleston Tennis LLC)

CHARLESTON, S.C./WASHINGTON, April 7, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

With championship weekend upon the South Carolina Lowcountry, four players remained in contention for this year’s WTA 500 Credit One Charleston Open singles title, the only clay-court event in the United States on the WTA Tour.

Three of the four top seeds — No. 1 Jessica Pegula of the United States, No. 3 Maria Sakkari of Greece, No. 4 Daria Kasatkina of Russia, the only past champion, a winner in 2017 — have been playing good tennis this week. The fourth semifinalist, American Danielle Collins, who came into Saturday’s play on the green clay at Credit One Stadium in form and with an 11-match winning streak to show for it, has been playing great tennis.

In the first semifinal, the World No. 5 Pegula and No. 11 Kasatkina combined for 16 service breaks and plenty of thrilling moments in front of packed house that filled Credit One Stadium at LTP Daniel Island.

Kasatkina rallied from a set down to pull out a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory in two hours and 47 minutes that lifted her into her third WTA final this season. It was also her first Top-10 win of 2024.

“Very tough match,” the 26-year-old Kasatkina expressed in her post-match news conference. “As I said, Charleston this year, so many great matches, like long battles. So, yeah, really happy with my win, with the way how I did it. And, yeah, happy to be in the finals here again.”

Kasatkina rallied from down an early break at 2-4 to win four straight games and pull out the opening set. Then, in the final set, she recovered from 0-2 to get to a decisive tie-break, which she won after trailing 3-1. Kasatkina had successfully pulled out her second straight three-set match after beating Romania’s Jaqueline Cristian in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Although Kasatkina saved only three of 11 break points she faced, she converted eight of 13 break-point opportunities. Pegula outpointed Kasatkina 116-112 but it didn’t matter. Kasatkina had beaten Pegula for the first time in three tries.

In recalling her first Charleston title, which came seven years ago, Kasatkina said: “It’s been a while, but it seems like it was yesterday. I’m really happy to be in the finals again; it’s really a special place.”

Meanwhile, in the second semifinal, Collins defeated Sakkari, 6-3, 6-3, in an hour and 25 minutes to collect her 12th straight victory. She won 77 percent of her first-set points, saved four of five break points she faced and converted four of seven break-point opportunities, including twice in the 29-minute opening set. Collins outpointed Sakkari 64-47.

“Coming out against Maria, she’s a warrior, one of the most consistent players on tour. She never gives up, and it’s not easy to beat someone that never gives up,” Collins said in her post-match news conference.

“I think my aggressive game style helped me. I had to stick to it, and she was throwing a lot at me and doing a lot of different things. So, I had to try to counter that and use my aggressive style as much as I could.”

The 30-year-old, 22nd-ranked Collins has now won 22 of her last 24 sets en route to her second straight final. A week ago, Collins garnered her first WTA 1000 crown in triumphing at the Miami Open. With her back-to-back trips to the finals in Miami and Charleston, she’s projected to return to the Top 20 on Monday.

Looking ahead to Sunday, Kasatkina leads her head-to-head against Collins 2-1. However, Collins won their most recent meeting on a hard court at San Diego in 2021.

Kasatkina was asked in her news conference about the thought of facing Collins. She acknowledged: “Danielle is, I think, playing the best tennis of her career right now. She’s fearless. When she feels her game, she’s one of the most dangerous players on tour, and she definitely feels it right now.

“So, yeah, it’s going to be a very tough battle. … I think the atmosphere is going to be great because playing an American in the United States, it always being some extra electricity on court. So, I’m really looking forward to it.”

Collins was asked in her news conference to talk about what it’s like facing Kasatkina. She said: “She’s one of my favorite players to watch because she makes these matches so interesting. The way she plays and her tennis IQ, how creative she is on court is phenomenal.

“I think against Daria I have to be very flexible. She has just about every tool in her toolbox. She can hit big. She can hit with shape. She can hit slices. She can come into the net. She does everything very, very well.

“She serves and returns well. She mixes up her pace. She’s just solid all over. And it’s going to be a battle, and I have to be ready to play a long, tough match if that’s what’s needed.”

Around the Credit One Charleston Open

Sloane Stephens and Ashlyn Krueger of the United States rallied from a set down and stormed their way to a 5-7, 6-0, 10-4 victory over Japan’s Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya, in an hour and 26 minutes.

The American duo outpointed their Japanese opponents 65-50 and converted four of five break point chances.

On Sunday, Stephens and Krueger will play Ukraine’s sister combo Lyudmyla Kichenok and Nadiia Kichenok in the title match.

By the numbers

Danielle Collins has won 21 main draw matches this season, which ranks her tied for third behind Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina, who are tied for first with 22. She is tied with Emma Navarro.

“Quotable …”

“I like this place. Coming here, coming back here every year, it just feels like the first time when I came here, even though they renovated this beautiful stadium. It’s like super new and modern. I remember two days ago coming to warmup on the stadium. I felt exactly the same like walking on this court from seven years ago. So, even they changed the seats; they added a little roof, and it looks different. Still, the soul of the stadium stays, which I love so much.”

Daria Kasatkina, 2017 champion who will play for the 2024 title, during her post-match news conference on Saturday.