Friday, March 16, 2018 - Daria Kasatkina reacts to defeating Venus Williams in the Semifinal of the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Michael Cummo/BNP Paribas Open)
Two hours and 50 minutes after it begun, 20-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina ended an instant classic against home hope Venus Williams with her arms over her head and racket at her feet.
Dasha, as she’s known, has the biggest win of her young career, and will play in Sunday’s BNP Paribas Open final after a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 triumph in front of an electric crowd in Stadium 1.
Kasatkina lost just two points after being down 4-5, love-30 serving, tapping a ball into the net in a moment that seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for her chance at the final.
She recovered, however, as Williams wilted at the finish line.
Shot after shot, Williams and Kasatkina exchanged blows throughout the night in a tremendous affair on a chilly evening in Indian Wells, temperatures dipping below 60 degrees in the desert.
The two had met twice prior before, splitting the two contests – both matches having gone into similar lengthy third sets.
Neither player had dropped a set leading into the semifinal, with Venus scoring wins over her sister Serena and tricky foes in Anastasija Sevastova and Carla Suarez Navarro.
For Kasatkina, Williams was the fourth consecutive Grand Slam champion she’s beaten in a row: Sloane Stephens, Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber and Venus. The world No. 19 is now 10-16 lifetime against the top 10.
The win earns her a spot in Sunday’s title match. Her opponent: the winner of Friday’s night cap between World No. 1 Simona Halep and a fellow streaking Cinderella story youngster, Japan’s Naomi Osaka.