Daria Kasatkina earned her first win over a reigning World No.1 on Tuesday, easing past top seed Angelique Kerber at the Apia International Sydney.
WTA Staff

SYDNEY, Australia - Daria Kasatkina pulled off the biggest win of her career at the Apia International Sydney, dispatching top seed and World No.1 Angelique Kerber, 7-6(5), 6-2 to advance into the quarterfinals.

Kasatkina rocketed up the rankings in her first full season on the WTA last year, and started 2017 hoping to build on her 2-10 record against Top 10 opposition. At the Brisbane International, she was a point away from upsetting Garbiñe Muguruza before the Spaniard snuck away with the match in a third-set tie-break.

Kerber, by contrast, compiled a career-best season with a 12-3 record against her fellow Top 10ers, but fell behind a quick break to Kasatkina to start the match. She soon leveled but played from behind throughout the first set, saving a set point in the tenth game behind a stunning backhand winner to force a tie-break.

The Russian teenager appeared undaunted in the sudden death and gamely took the set thanks to a late mini-break. Taking the momentum into the second set, Kasatkina promptly broke but saw her lead slip away as Kerber edged back to 2-2.

Kasatkina met with coach Valdo Platenik as she got close to the finish line and steadied her nerve to break twice more and seal the win in 93 minutes.

"First, my thought was, finally, I won on match point, because I lost a few good matches from the match point last year and this year already," Kasatkina said. "For me, it was important. This match was very important for me.

"I was three matches from match point against Top 10 players, and today I beat No.1 in the world. So I think I am somewhere close [to her level]."

Kerber maintained perspective in press.

"The first matches of the year are always tough, and I'm still not feeling my rhythm. I made too many mistakes. I was not feeling the ball.

"It's tough, but I think it was still good to have a match before going to Melbourne."

Up next is No.6 seed Johanna Konta, who got the better of Kasatkina's good friend Daria Gavrilova, 6-1, 6-3.

"She has a good serve, good backhand. She doesn't have so many weakness," Kasatkina said of Konta. "It will be good match. And again, up against Top 10 player. I'm happy, because it's good to start the season when you play against the best so you can see where is your level. Good preparation for Australian Open."