Kasatkina makes first major semi, without dropping a set

 - Simon Cambers

Former top-10 player continues her resurgence as she dismisses Kudermetova to hit new Slam milestone

Daria Kasatkina, Roland-Garros 2022, Simple Dames, 1/8 de Finale, Cedric Lecocq / FFT

Daria Kasatkina held her nerve to reach her first ever Grand Slam semi-final as she saw off Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 7-6(5) in a tense Court Philippe-Chatrier contest at Roland-Garros on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old, a quarter-finalist in Paris in 2018, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set only to get nervous and let slip a 6-1 lead in the tiebreak before finally clinching victory.

Kasatkina, the No.20 seed, will meet either world No.1 and former champion Iga Swiatek or American Jessica Pegula in the semi-finals on Thursday.

Story of the match

Kasatkina won their only previous meeting, in St. Petersburg in 2021 and went into the match with 10 wins from her last 12 matches, having rediscovered top form after a couple of years in the wilderness.

In her maiden Grand Slam quarter-final, Kudermetova began well and broke for a 3-1 lead as Kasatkina looked nervous from the start and was vulnerable on serve.

With her languid style, though, Kasatkina often lulls her opponents into a false sense of security and she held for 2-3 before drawing level.

At 4-4, she created a chance to move ahead and though Kudermetova saved two break points, she took her third opportunity as she whipped a forehand across the advancing 29th seed.

Daria Kasatkina, Roland Garros 2022, quarter-final© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

No one has more wins than Kudermetova in doubles this year but she came into Paris having lost in the singles first round in Madrid and Rome, after reaching the final in Istanbul.

Kudermetova was having plenty of success at the net but the problem for both women was holding serve.

As the second set wore on, service holds were at a premium but Kasatkina had the chance to serve it out when she led 5-4 only to show obvious nerves as she failed to finish off the match.

Kudermetova held for 6-5 and then took a medical timeout for what looked like a left foot problem. Kasatkina tried to keep herself fresh during the break and when it came to her turn to serve, she held well to force a tiebreak.

The players switched sides with Kasatkina leading 5-1 and she extended it to 6-1, giving herself five match points.

Things got tense again and Kudermetova hit back to 6-5. But at the fifth time of asking, a brilliant drop shot from Kasatkina gave her a dramatic, emotional victory.

Veronika Kudermetova, Roland-Garros 2022, Simple Dames, 1/8 de Finale,  Cedric Lecocq / FFT

Key stats

Kasatkina’s big weakness is her second serve, one of the slowest on tour, but she backs it up well and actually ended up winning 50 per cent of points on it through the match, compared to just 38 per cent for Kudermetova.

The biggest issue of all, though, for Kudermetova, was the number of unforced errors. She committed 50 in all – enough for more than two full sets alone – compared to 25 for Kasatkina, and a streak of errors at the start of the second-set tiebreak stopped her from taking it into a decider.

What the winner said

“You could see the match was really nervous inside, especially the tiebreak, the last few points were super tight. I’m happy in the end, it’s a very important win for me. I’m happy to be in the semis for the first time," said Daria Kasatkina in her on-court interview.

“I was trying to forget about the games I lost, especially the one on return, I had two break points. It’s tough, it’s so mental but I’m happy I was able to win.

"My box were pretty nervous I guess, especially at the end. I love them so much and I want to spend a little bit more time with them. Thank you guys and keep calm - it's OK!"