Daria Kasatkina came back strongly from a delicate situation to beat Ons Jabeur in the final and clinch the 2018 Kremlin Cup. It was her first ever competition win at home too.
The Russian broke into the top 10 of the WTA rankings as a result of this win as well, which means she has overtaken Aryna Sabalenka as the first alternate for the WTA Finals that kick-starts from tomorrow.
Seeded sixth in the competition, Kasatkina had made it to the final last year but lost and it looked like history was repeating itself when she lost the first set and then was a break down in the second. Jabeur, spurred on by her fans in the stands, took a 4-1 lead in the second set but the home favourite came back to win a tough battle 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-4. The two players were on court for two hours and five minutes.
Kasatkina now joins a list of Russian players to have won this title at home, a list that consists of Anastasia Myskina, Anna Chakvetadze, Elena Dementieva, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Svetlana Kuznetsova. On the other hand, Jabeur was looking to become the first ever Tunisian to win a WTA title but she would now have to be satisfied with being the only one from her country to have even made the final.
The first set started with both players getting early breaks but the Tunisian soon broke back thanks to successive double-faults from Kasatkina. She held on and clinched another break of serve to make it a set up.
Kasatkina had an early break yet again but that didn’t last too long as Jabeur took full advantage of her opponent’s second serves and broke back to make it 1-1. And when Kasatkina was broken yet again next game, the writing looked to be on the wall.
It was, however, nerves that looked to get the better of Jabeur in the second set as she sent down 38 unforced errors, as compared to just eight in the first, and that allowed Kasatkina to break back and level things at 4-4. There were more breaks of serve before they went into the tie-breaker, which Kasatkina went on to win easily.
The battle remained as tough in the third set too but at 4-4, the Russian won the final break of the match before serving out and winning the Moscow tournament.