Kasatkina keeps WTA Finals dream alive

RUSSIAN eighth seed Daria Kasatkina has kept her dream of winning the WTA Finals alive with a vital 7-6 6-3 victory over young American Coco Gauff on day four of the tournament. The loser of the match was set to be eliminated from contention, after both players lost on day two. Meanwhile world number one Iga Swiatek confirmed she would top the group after knocking off Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia in the other match, 6-3 6-2.

In a must-win contest, the 25-year-old Kasatkina produced an impressive performance against the teenage Gauff, having beaten the youngster in both previous occasions. Having never dropped a set against the now world number four, Kasatkina had her biggest challenge to-date against the American, needing to overcome a first set tiebreaker to get it done. After surviving that 8-6, she was able to win a crucial break in the second set to win in one hour and 41 minutes in Fort Worth.

Both players served with a high efficiency, but a low success rate, as Kasatkina narrowly shaded Gauff (79 to 78 per cent) in regards to first serve percentage. However when it came to points won, Kasatkina was ahead, but neither really took control, with the Russian winning 55 and 40 per cent compared to the American’s 45 and 38 per cent. Gauff still broke Kasatkina five times, but the sixth proved enough for the world number eight to get the job done, winning 13 more points overall to set up a virtual elimination final with Garcia to determine who will reach the semi-finals.

In the earlier match, Swiatek continued her dominance on court with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Garcia to guarantee her spot in the WTA semi-finals. It took the Polish world number one just an hour and 24 minutes to get it done, winning 74 per cent of her first serve points, and saving five of six break point chances for her opponent. By comparison, she broke four times from five chances, and dominated Garcia’s second serve (72 per cent success rate) to produce a statement win.

Swiatek said she was feeling good about her place in world tennis and being the top ranked player on Tour.

“For sure, I am trying to focus more,” Swiatek said post-match. “It’s my goal in this tournament, because in San Diego I felt like I needed to lose on set to get to a different level of focus – maybe because I was tired. But here, I feel like I can just give it all in.

“It’s the last tournament of the season and I have nothing to lose. I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to do next. For sure, I’m committed 100 percent physically and mentally as well.”

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