Top 10 debutante Daria Kasatkina joins the WTA Podcast to discuss the "Russian Wall", her viral coaching timeout with Philippe Dehaes, and why winning the 2018 Kremlin Cup meant everything.
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen
October 23, 2018

SINGAPORE - Daria Kasatkina's childhood dreams finally came true on Saturday, and just in the nick of time. The 21-year-old Russian had to battle back from 6-2, 4-1 in her second Kremlin Cup final to defeat her good friend Ons Jabeur 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 to win her second career title, first of 2018, and book her WTA Top 10 debut on Monday. The win also secured Kasatkina the first alternate position at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. 

"I love to play in Russia, I love Russian vibes," Kasatkina said on the newest episode of the WTA Insider Podcast. "We say in Russia: At home, even walls are helping you." 

"Everything just happened in this day. It was the birthday of my father, everybody was there, it was the last time they play Kremlin Cup in Olympiyskiy Stadium. This is also why I wanted to win this year because it will be Kremlin Cup but not this Kremlin Cup. Not the one every kid wants to win. 

"So for me, it's like a fairytale. I still can't believe it."

Nicknamed "the Russian Wall" by WTA physios after her coach's viral on-court coaching timeout during her second-round win over Alizé Cornet, Kasatkina was still riding the high of winning the most meaningful title of her career.

"You could see by my reaction after the match, because it's at home. Now I wish to win St. Petersburg of course.

"But Kremlin Cup, I think all the kids first they know Kremlin Cup, then they know Grand Slams. But first it's Kremlin Cup."

Hear Kasatkina reflect on her week in Moscow and Top 10 debut in the newest episode of the WTA Insider Podcast below: 

Kasatkina's coach Philippe Dehaes certainly understood the amusement regarding his highly-effective coaching timeouts with Kasatkina throughout the year, but the Belgian went out of his way to emphasize the importance of Team Kasatkina. Personally, Dehaes prefers to be in the shadows. 

"I know that it's important to do it for the show and blah, blah, blah, but me personally, as a coach, it's my job," Dehaes said. "I see it like 'in the shadows' job.

"You see, we have Dasha is playing good because we have a team behind. It's about two physical coaches, it's about a doctor, it's about somebody to take care of the food, et cetera, et cetera, and I'm the tennis coach. So it's a teamwork.

"So I'm coming in front of everybody, saying a few things, and actually it's working, but it's not only about this for me. Really, honestly, it's okay, but I'm not looking forward to the next match and be in front of the camera and making the show, because it's not my job.

"Dasha is the player, she is the star, she is why the people come to see tennis. They are not coming to see me."

Reflecting on the tense week in Moscow, Dehaes said Kasatkina's title-run was the perfect end to the season.

"To be honest, I cry a little bit when she came to my arm and start to cry a lot, so I was a little bit shocked," Dehaes said. 

"You know, you work a lot during the year. You sacrifice a lot of things. Me, personally, I have family, I have kids and I don't see them a lot. You work, we went through a very difficult summer.

"So it's a lot of hours of difficulties where you ask a lot of questions, and then you have this moment when you win the last point and she win the title. It's exactly what you expect. A little bit more during the year, but it does not happens often. So it was just great.

"And these few seconds of huge emotion refilled the battery for sure for another year, for sure."