No.14 seed Daria Kasatkina reached the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time, knocking out former junior champion Ashleigh Barty in straight sets.
David Kane
July 7, 2018

LONDON, Great Britain - No.14 seed Daria Kasatkina made it into the second week of Wimbledon for the first time in her career on Saturday, dismissing No.17 seed Ashleigh Barty, 7-5, 6-3.

"Every match you win gives you confidence," Kasatkina said after the match. "It doesn't matter if your opponent is playing particularly well or not. I just enjoy winning points and matches, and these things give me confidence."

Trailing by a break in the opening set, the 21-year-old Russian is fresh off a career-best run at Roland Garros - reaching the last eight - and used that big stage experience to reverse the trend and advance into the fourth round after one hour and 13 minutes on court.

"I was ready for her game. She serves well, slices the ball very low, which is dangerous on grass. Once I got used to it, I was better able to manage the situation."

The 2014 French Open junior champion was taking on the 2011 Wimbledon junior champion for the first time on No.3 Court, and that grass court comfort seemed to help Barty - winner at the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham and quarterfinalist at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne - from the start as she broke serve early and took a 4-1 lead.

"I was pretty nervous in the beginning, especially when you're playing the first match of the day; you're still a little sleepy, it's so sunny that you can barely see the ball. But it must have been a fun match to watch because we were both doing some tricky things, and I really enjoyed the match."

But where the 22-year-old Aussie was into the third round at the All England Club for the first time, Kasatkina had already reached this stage two years prior, pushing five-time Wimbledon winner Venus Williams to 10-8 in the third back in 2016. The Russian soon settled and won six of the next seven games to capture the opening set.

"When I was 14, I couldn't find my backhand [drive], so I did a lot of slicing and drop shots. I was never an especially powerful girl, so I had to find other ways to win.

"This surface is completely different [from Paris], but still, I enjoy playing here because you have to play, find the ways, and do things specific with the ball even when stupid things come into your mind. There haven't been too many crazy bounces. I could maybe do more with my serve, but I'm learning a lot of things here that will help me in the future. I have to focus on my serve, go for volleys, play aggressively, because if I run five meters behind the baseline every point, I have no chance; it'll bring some improvements to my game."

Both women have played some of their best tennis in 2018 - each are close to career-high rankings earned this season - and Barty continued to keep things close in the second set, rallying from a break down with chances to edge ahead in the seventh game. Apart from her slow start, Kasatkina ultimately played far steadier throughout, hitting an even 17 winners to 17 unforced errors - though 12 came in the opening set. 

Drawing crucial unforced errors (24 in total) from the No.17 seed, Kasatkina broke love in the final game booking a fourth round clash with unseeded and looming Alison van Uytvanck, who upset defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza in the previous round and backed it up with a straight-sets win over No.28 seed Anett Kontaveit.

"Only players who really like grass are left, and so it's not going to be easy."

Kasatkina and Van Uytvanck have played once before - just last week at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne - where Kasatkina recovered from a set down to defeat the big-hitting Belgian and fellow former Roland Garros quarterfinalist, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.

"I was down a set, and I might have been down a break too. I saw her beat Muguruza, and obviously she was very motivated to beat her here at Wimbledon."