ROME, Italy – No.14 seed Daria Kasatkina made short work of qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, winning through 6-0, 6-4 after weathering a lengthy rain delay.
“We had a four or five-hour delay, but I’m happy I played because I think there’s more rain scheduled for later on,” Kasatkina said afterward. “It’s never easy when you are waiting around, so I’m happy I started well and was feeling the ball from the first point. It’s such a beautiful tournament, and such a beautiful city that it’s special every time you are on court.
“It’s a time of year I always look forward to. I love playing on clay, I’m just enjoying it because there’s only two tournaments left [on clay] and I’m trying to make the most of every match.”
The first three games of the match were hard fought, but once the WTA World No.13 had secured a double break the floodgates opened for what was a highly impressive victory.
Although there was a lengthy delay to starting the match due to rain in the Italian capital, both players came out in sparkling form. A deft Tomljanovic drop shot winner was countered by a super lob from Kasatkina, who took her first break point with a patient rally that was ended when she cracked a winner after forcing her opponent to hit short.
Tomljanovic might have replied immediately. The Russian No.1 served two double faults in her opening service game and gave up three break points to her opponent, but the Australian could not convert in what proved a watershed game in the match.
A matter of minutes later, she was down a double break. Kasatkina picked out three almost identical crosscourt winners on the forehand side but it was her relentless consistency that was getting the better of her opponent and after another hard-fought game she was 3-0 up.
Thereafter, the opening set proved something of a formality as she raced through the next three games.
The start of the second proved to be equally profitable for the 21-year-old. Tomljanovic immediately found herself facing a 0-30 deficit and after sending two balls into the net was again playing catch up.
Hints that Kasatkina was starting to come off her dizzying level appeared in her first service game as she fell 15-30 down, and though she turned it around to claim it, her opponent finally got on the board in the set’s third game.
Having established a footing, the Australian then set about wrestling the momentum from her opponent by breaking to draw level at 2-2, but she was swiftly outmanoeuvred in the game to find herself tasked with coming from behind.
Tomljanovic’s power allowed her respond again, yet Kasatkina simply refused to allow her opponent to take the initiative and raised her game to secure a sixth break from just eight break points.
This one proved to be decisive as Tomljanovic was unable to find a route back into the set for a third time, meaning that Kasatkina will face another qualifier Danielle Collins in the second round.