DUBAI, UAE - Daria Kasatkina continued her impressive run at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, scoring a first win over good friend Elena Vesnina, 7-6(5), 6-1, to reach her second Premier semifinal in the last three weeks.
"I think you saw it was a very difficult match, especially in the first set," Kasatkina said during her on-court interview. "It was really tight, and it's tough to play against your friend."
Kasatkina first met Vesnina back in 2008, posing for a photo with the veteran at just 11 years old. The pair famously ended Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza's 41-match winning streak two years ago at the Qatar Total Open and were across the net for just the second time in singles after the BNP Paribas Open champion beat the youngster last spring at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
"Big respect to Elena. I wish you good luck in the future," she said before adding in Russian, "You hear me, right?"
Kasatkina had the upper hand for much of the opening set, holding two set points at 5-4 before Vesnina turned the tables and took a big lead in the ensuing tie-break. A 28-shot rally proved decisive for the reiging Volvo Car Open winner, taking the final four points and dropping just one more game in the 97 minute match.
"I was down 5-3, and it was tough to manage because she was playing good in the tie-breaker, really aggressive. I was just trying to play ball by ball, and that's it."
Kasatkina has enjoyed a stellar week in Dubai, saving match points to defeat British No.1 Johanna Konta, and will next play No.2 seed and two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza for a spot in her first final of 2018.
"It's the semifinals already, so only the strong opponents are left. It's going to be tough because I've never beat her. It'll be a big motivation for me."