Daria Kasatkina's week under the California sun was a grueling one. And she wouldn't have it any other way.
On Sunday, Kasatkina secured her third comeback for the week to defeat Shelby Rogers 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-2 to win the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic. The title is the 25-year-old's first of the season and fifth overall. On Monday she will return to the Top 10 for the first time since 2019 at a career-high ranking at No.9.
Kasatkina's title run included wins against two Top 10 players in Paula Badosa and Aryna Sabalenka, the reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, and Americans Taylor Townsend and Rogers. The victories moved Kasatkina's 2022 win tally to 32, tying her with Simona Halep for the third-most on tour. She has won 13 of the 16 three-set matches she's played this season.
Kasatkina's San Jose triumph also shines a light on her strong season. On Monday, she will overtake Coco Gauff and sit at No.3 on the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals.
Kasatkina caught up with WTA Insider after her win to reflect on a statement week in San Jose.
WTA Insider: What does winning this title mean to you?
Kasatkina: A lot because this title brings me many things. It's the fifth title -- that's a nice number. My highest ranking ever. I'm third in the Race.
We don't win titles every day. It's always special to win a title, especially at a 500. Especially with the list of the players that played here and you become the best this week of all of them. I'm really glad I'm the one who holds the trophy this week.
Kasatkina feeling free and happy after coming out
WTA Insider: You had to come back from a set down three times this week, including in the final. How much pride do you take out of how you handled the week mentally and physically?
Kasatkina: I've been playing many, many three-set matches, maybe more than two-set matches. So I'm used to it, physically and mentally. Sometimes I'm just getting to the level that I need during the match. I have to change it and start from the beginning to save some energy for future matches, but for the moment it's like this.
I like these battles. I like to play these kinds of matches. Of course, I would like to play shorter ones, but at the end of the day, I'm happy with my mentality in these comebacks. I'm not giving up, which is important.
WTA Insider: You had a tough draw this week, beating Rybakina, Badosa, and Sabalenka. How important was that comeback in the first round against Elena?
Kasatkina: For sure it was a good challenge. It was a tough draw but if you look at the list of the players, you couldn't have an easy draw here. It makes this title more important for me.
It was important to win this match. Not just to fight but to close the match like this it gives you confidence. She just won a Grand Slam so she's an unbelievable player. So to beat this player in this strong of a tournament, it gives you confidence for sure.
WTA Insider: What are you happiest about this week?
Kasatkina: The way I fight, for sure. The draw was tough. I had tough opponents, tough matches. Not all matches I was feeling amazing. There were tough moments this week. I like this challenge and I went through the difficult times. For sure this tournament made me a better player.
WTA Insider: The title is a measure of your performance in a week. Being back in the Top 10 is a reflection of your past 12 months. Being No.3 in the Race is about the quality of your season. Which stat means the most to you?
Kasatkina: For my coach, the Race is more important than the actual ranking. To be in the competition for the last eight in August, this is a big thing.
I think I had quite a regular season, regular results. I didn't have any breakdowns, maybe just a few. This is the most important. As I said, the golden ticket goes to the ones who are the most consistent.
WTA Insider: You've been ranked in the Top 10 of the Race in past seasons. Do you think it helps to give you that extra motivation for this last stage of the season?
Kasatkina: I remember in 2018 when I was also in the Race. It was exactly in the middle of the season I was Top 10 in the Race. This thought killed me. I was not ready for these thoughts.
Now I have a different mentality, a different approach to this. It gives me motivation. I want it. So it helps me. So far it's working.
WTA Insider: Does this title change your expectations for what you can do over the next few weeks across the US Open series?
Kasatkina: You never know. When you think you're in great shape, you cannot win. Then you're coming to a tournament and you think you're going to lose in the first round and you're playing in the final.
It will go how it will go. I will do my best. I didn't expect to win this week and look what happened.
WTA Insider: How do you plan to celebrate the title?
Kasatkina: Not too much celebration unfortunately because tomorrow I have a flight already to Toronto. But tonight it will be a nice dinner with my team. We will celebrate because it has to be like this. We have to enjoy this moment because it's special.
Mentally I'm already thinking of the next tournament, to be honest. The job never stops.