INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - No.20 seed Daria Kasatkina scored her second victory against Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki this season at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday night, advancing to her second quarterfinal at the Premier Mandatory event by virtue of a 6-4, 7-5 victory.
Kasatkina had to battle back from a break down in both sets for her fourth-round victory against the World No.2, whom she defeated at the St. Petersburg Ladies' Trophy in February following Wozniacki's Australian Open triumph when the Dane was ranked World No.1.
"I'm just going on court and actually now enjoying every minute during I'm playing," Kasatkina said during her post-match press conference. "I'm playing best matches against the best players. But as I say, if you want to be on the top, you have to beat the top players. So, quite simple rule.
"Me and Caroline, we are playing kind of tactic tennis," she continued. "From my side, it was like a chess game because we've got a bit time during the game, during the ball was flying, so you can, like, in one second to think where to put the ball, how to put the ball."
The Russian previously reached the last eight in Indian Wells on her main draw debut in 2016, where she lost to Karolina Pliskova, and also reached the quarterfinals at the Premier Mandatory event in Beijing last fall.
Kasatkina will play No.10 seed Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals, after the German dismissed No.7 seed Caroline Garcia, 6-1, 6-1, in the fourth round. Kasatkina and Kerber have split their four previous meetings.
After losing 10 of the first 11 points of the match to fall behind 3-0 in short order, Kasatkina battled back to claim the next five games, as she pushed Wozniacki around the court with a patented blend of heavy topspin off her forehand wing and sliced variety off the backhand.
"Actually, that moments I don't think about anything," said Kasatkina, when asked how she always manages to come back when behind in the scoreline. "I'm just playing, just trying to get back into the game, and sometimes it's going well," the Russian said with a smile.
Wozniacki staved off a set point which would've seen Kasatkina claim a sixth straight game, but the Russian served out the set with aplomb to win her third straight set against Wozniacki overall.
In the second set, the World No.19 twice moved ahead by a break early on, though the 2011 champion in Indian Wells looked to push the match to a decider as she won three straight games from 3-2 down.
Nonetheless, Kasatkina produced some of her best tennis with her back against the wall once again, breaking serve in the ninth game to stay alive and winning the last four games of the match.
The Russian capped her statement victory with yet another forehand winner - one of 22 she hit off the ground overall in the match - in one hour, 40 minutes.
Wozniacki was disheartened by the loss. "I think obviously it's a frustrating match because it felt like a lot of the match was on my racquet," the World No.2 told the press, following the encounter. "It is what it is. She outsmarted me today, which is fair enough. But, you know, at least I tried, and I tried to do what I thought I needed to do out there today. I just couldn't execute as well as I wanted to."
Meanwhile, Kasatkina's self-belief continues to grow. "In the beginning it was really tough, because I was really nervous going on the big stages, on the big courts against big players," said the young Russian. "But now, with experience, with the time, I'm getting into it and I would say I'm getting pretty confident in this level already."
Kasatkina's victory also proves to be good news for current World No.1 Simona Halep on the ranking front: as a result of Wozniacki's loss, the Romanian will hold on to the top spot through next week's Miami Open.