DUBAI, UAE - Daria Kasatkina needed over three hours and saved two match points to battle past No.7 seed Johanna Konta in a three-set marathon to reach the quarterfinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Kasatkina will likely rue her missed chances early in the match; she held nine break points in five separate games across the first two sets, but wasn’t able to break the Konta serve until late in the second. But she stayed calm and waited for her chances to come back from a set down and record the 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-2 victory.
“It was such a tough match,” Kasatkina said in her post-match press conference. “We spent like three hours on the court, but felt like one hour on a court because I was so much in the match.
“But now I feel a bit weird, because it's done. It was such a big battle, such a big fight. So I'm just happy that I survive.”
Konta came into the matchup with a 7-1 record against Russian players, and looked keen to extend that streak. Despite Kasatkina keeping her serve under pressure and creating seven break point chances, Konta needed just one to grab the lone break and take the first set.
The British player opened the second with another break, 2-0 and had points in the next game to extend her lead to 3-0 but Kasatkina fought her way back. She finally got her first break of the Konta serve to level at 3-3, and raised her level to step inside the baseline and keep pace with Konta.
Kasatkina trailed once again in the tiebreak - where Konta held two match points - before reeling off the last four points in a row to send the match the distance. After a tense exchange of breaks started the third set, it was all Kasatkina, who reeled off five games in a row to put an end to their lengthy encounter.
“It would have been nice to have taken one of the match points, however that's part of
the game,” Konta reflected in press. “So I think I can only really look back on this match, obviously not now immediately, it has just finished and it's quite late, but just to be able to look back on it, take the good things, because I did do a lot of good things, then learn from the things I can try to do better.”
Both players stayed aggressive throughout the match, with Konta striking 10 more winners than Kasatkina’s 25. But Konta was undone by her 63 unforced errors, many of which came at crucial moments late in the third set. For her part, Kasatkina hit 34 unforced errors but still managed to convert four of the 14 break chances she created.
Awaiting Kasatkina in the quarterfinals is a fellow Russian, Elena Vesnina, who knocked out Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets earlier in the day to notch her first Top 10 victory of the year.