MOSCOW, Russia - No.6 seed Daria Kasatkina came through an all-Russian clash in the quarterfinals of the VTB Kremlin Cup on Thursday, defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach the semifinals.
In front of a packed house on Centre Court, the younger Russian rallied from a break down in each set to earn a 6-4, 6-3 triumph in one hour and 22 minutes, reaching the last four in Moscow for the third time in her career.
The 2017 runner-up in Moscow, Kasatkina also reached the semifinals after coming out of qualifying in 2015.
All three of the compatriots' meetings have come at the Premier-level event, with Kasatkina winning en route to the final a year ago, and Pavlyuchenkova coming from a set down in the final four en route to her own runner-up finish two years prior.
"It was a very tough match, especially at the beginning when Nastia was playing really well," Kasatkina said on-court after the match.
"I had to speed up my game just to stay in the rally. It was a really-hard fought victory for me. This atmosphere is what I like so much, and I would just like to thank the crowd for the support."
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Serving at 70 percent for the match, the 21-year-old hit 16 winners to just 12 unforced errors in the win, and broke serve six times.
Pavlyuchenkova racked up 28 unforced errors to go along with her 26 winners in the match, as she was also the aggressor overall with a total of 21 approached to the net.
Nonetheless, the elder Russian's consistency faltered as she built leads by a break twice in the opener, and at 3-1 in the second set.
Kasatkina's effectiveness on return increased over the course of the match, as she ultimately won more than 50 percent of the points on both her 27-year-old compatriot's first and second serves.
Should she want to return to the final on home soil, Kasatkina will need to defeat the resurgent Johanna Konta, who upset No.7 seed Elise Mertens in the opening round and came through three-set victories against Daria Gavrilova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich to reach the last four.
The Russian has already defeated Konta en route to reaching a final once this year, coming from a set down to win their round of 16 encounter at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, in the fifth-longest match in tournament history.