Kasatkina clinches VTB Kremlin Cup

Daria Kasatkina RUS applauds the crowd. Credit: AELTC/Ben Queenborough

Russia’S Daria Kasatkina defeated Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, 2/6; 7/6; 6/4 to win the VTB Kremlin Cup tennis championship.

In the semifinals of the men’s event, Karen Khachanov defeated compatriot Daniil Medvedev, 6/1; 6/7 (5); 6/3 and will face Adrian Mannarino, who defeated Italy’s Andreas Seppi, 7/6; 7/5 in the final.

In the semifinals, Daria defeated Johanna Konta in straight sets, while Jabeur battled Anastasija Sevastova in three sets. The titlist was close to defeat in the second round in which Alice Cornet won the first set 6/3 and was close to victory in the 10th game of the second, which Kasatkina won by 7/5 and the third by 6/4.

The Tunisian world number 101 had played through two qualifying rounds to enter the main draw. In the finals, she lost her serve in the first game of the match, but retaliated and broke to lead 3-2.

Playing aggressively, the Tunisian clinched the first set 6/2. The second set started with exchange of breaks, but Jabeur won three games in a row to lead 4-1.

However, the flip side of aggressive play resulted in 38 unforced errors, and the Russian leveled 4-4 and the set reached six games apiece. From 3-3 in the tiebreak, Daria won the last four points to take the second set 7/6 (3).

In the third set decider, each player held serve but Daria got the break in the ninth game to lead 5-4. She held her serve to clinch victory.

Fatigue was a factor, as the toll of playing eight matches caught up with the Tunisian.

For Daria, it was a consolation for the season. She had lost in the final of Dubai to Elina Svitolina and in Indian Wells to Naomi Osaka.

By the victory, she will rise in the rankings today and replace Aryna Sabalenka as the first alternate in the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore.

If Karen Khachanov wins the Kremlin title, he will replace Medvedev as number one male tennis player in Russia. Medvedev had surpassed his compatriot after winning the Rakuten Open in Tokyo where he defeated Kei Nishikori.