WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | Daria Kasatkina breaks down her glass cage of emotions as she basks in the glow of her maiden WTA title at the Volvo Car Open
WTA Staff

CHARLESTON, SC, USA - Hours after winning her first title at the Volvo Car Open, 19-year-old Daria Kasatkina's feet still had not touched the ground. The Russian phenom capped off the best week of her young career by winning a battle of teenage prodigies in Charleston, beating Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-1. Playing in her first final, Kasatkina showed the poise and focus of a veteran, flummoxing the big-hitting Latvian with her slice and defense.

It was a big relief for Kasatkina, who is set to return to the Top 30 after the win. She endured a sleepless night on the eve of the final, but the nerves never showed in her dominant performance.

"It was quite comfortable for me today," Kasatkina said. "I was playing just with my feelings. I go back, spin the ball, running, everything, and thank God she was missing," she said, laughing.

Kasatkina became the sixth teenager to win the title in Charleston and the youngest to win a Premier-level tournamnent since Belinda Bencic won the 2015 Rogers Cup. When she was told her face would be on the side of Billie Jean King Stadium next year, Kasatkina had just one response: "Oy."

"I need to prepare for these things," she said, laughing again. "It never happened to me before. So a little bit makeup for the pictures. No, I am joking.

"I don't realize it yet, so I'm just enjoying it every moment, every second. And really, when I was on the court after the last point, I just wanted the moment to stop because it was one of the best moments in my life."

WTA Insider caught up with Kasatkina after her Champion's Photo Shoot on Rainbow Row in downtown Charleston.

Insider: First of all, how are you feeling?
Kasatkina: I'm feeling just amazing. I still cannot believe that I'm here and I won a title, the first of my career. I'm very excited and I'm looking forward for the next weeks, the next tournaments.

Insider: Are you already looking forward? Have you had time to let it sink in?
Kasatkina: No, I didn't have time. I had a quick lunch, but I'm still somewhere on a different planet. Maybe tomorrow I'll realize it a bit.

Insider: I'm sure you've imagined what it would be like to win your first WTA title. Did today feel like you thought it would?
Kastkina: Very difficult to say, because I felt a lot of emotions today and I cannot even describe them. I was smiling, I was laughing today, everything. It was everything that I was waiting for. A lot of emotions that you cannot hold in your body.

Insider: Tennis players don't succeed alone. You've had your brother and your coach, Vlado Platenik, by your side. Talk about what they bring to the table.
Kasatkina: Because of my brother, I'm playing tennis. He used to play for fun when he was 17 or 18. So when I was five years old my parents were trying to decide where to put me, which sport. My brother went to them and said let's put her in tennis. It's a very good sport, you are using all the muscles and everything. So from that moment, he was taking care of my fitness, my tennis. So from this moment, we were traveling together and I hope that we will continue until the end.

And then Vlado, we have been working together already for two and a half years, and I took a lot of positive things from him. Actually, with him I made a huge jump, years ago. I'm happy that we're still improving and going forward.

Insider: Do you feel like this title came quickly for you? Or did you want it sooner?
Kasatkina: Actually, I want it quicker. Even when it was the first year on tour I was like, 'When am I going to win my first title?' Because I had a few semifinals playing good tennis. Everybody wants everything faster for yourself. It happened when I'm almost 20 and I'm happy that it happened here in Charleston. Such a nice city and such a good tournament. I'm just blessed and thankful for everything.

Insider: How do you compare the emotions of winning junior French Open to winning today?
Kasatkina: Clay has given me all the best emotions I ever had! When I won Roland Garros it was almost the same emotions but today was a little bit more.

Insider: You came here after a disappointing hardcourt season. You had lost four straight matches. What came together for you here?
Kasatkina: I was disappointed but I was so motivated after this hard court season, which was not very good. We start to work really hard, become more disciplined. Thanks to my team, because I was more of a kid just one month ago. Because of them, I became more mature. This is the key. You have to decide what you really want from your life.

Insider: Did you have those discussions with your team about needing to step up? What was that like?
Kasatkina: It was one of the toughest discussions in my life because it is very tough when you are sitting with your team and not talking about positive things. When you have some problems or crisis in your tennis, in your life, you don't want to talk about it but you have to because you have to find the way to get better. It's difficult but you have to do this.

Insider: Was it a crisis of confidence? What was the crisis?
Kasatkina: I think it's all about confidence and the mental side. Everyone is playing good, just somebody is more better mentally, somebody is not good enough, so you really have to be mentally prepared for everything that is happening in this life.

Insider: You said earlier this week that Vlado's been pretty tough on you.
Kasatkina: One month already. Especially this week!

Insider: Is that part of that discussion, in terms of maturing? Why is that important?
Kasatkina: It's important because he's taking me from the heaven to the ground. Sometimes you can fly away and you forgot, not how to play tennis, but how to be on the court and make the decisions. So it's important for someone to, say, punch you and then you again know what you want and what you have to do.

Insider: It's been a great couple of months for Russian tennis. I hear Elena Vesnina was on Match.TV talking about you and her run to the BNP Paribas Open title.
Kasatkina: This is huge! I cannot even...especially for women's tennis. Two Russians in the finals of Indian Wells, Anastasia in the final in Monterrey, and I won. I hope she will also win the title. It's very good for Russian tennis. We can be examples to the small kids.

Insider: Congratulations, Dasha. We'll see you on the red clay soon.
Kasatkina: Now a little bit rest, and then we go to the red clay, my favorite European surface.

Hear more from Kasatkina in the latest episode of the WTA Insider Podcast: