Kasatkina proud of career-best run in Paris

 - Stephanie Livaudais

No.20 seed departs Roland-Garros with head held high after a stellar fortnight

Daria Kasatkina, demi-finales, Roland-Garros 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

In her fourth meeting with Iga Swiatek this season, there weren’t many secrets or surprises for Daria Kasatkina on Thursday at Roland-Garros.

Kasatkina came in with a game plan – assert herself early in the match, disrupt the world No.1’s rhythm, outrally her opponent with her own flowing creativity – and chasing the ultimate carrot of motivation: a place in her first Grand Slam final.

But like a famous American heavyweight boxer once said: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

For Kasatkina, the blows came from all directions on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

From Swiatek’s relentless aggression, which produced 22 winners and didn’t allow Kasatkina to capitalise on her opportunities. And from inside herself, as she struggled to keep a lid on her mounting frustration as the match got away from her.

“She didn't do anything which I was not ready for,” Kasatkina told press after her 6-2, 6-1 defeat. “The thing is I was too emotional today, and I couldn't handle the nerves the way I was able to do the previous matches.

“I think that's normal. Also, during the match she was playing better and better. All together [it] brings the match to this point.”

Kasatkina had been in ominous form all fortnight long, and she hadn’t dropped a set on her way to the semi-finals – something even the dominant Swiatek wasn’t able to achieve.

The No.20 seed lost only five games across her first two matches, and made quick work of Shelby Rogers, 6-3, 6-2, and No.28 Camila Giorgi, 6-2, 6-2, to reach her third Grand Slam quarter-final. She was pushed to the limit by countrywoman Veronika Kudermetova, before overcoming the No.29 seed 6-4, 7-6(5).

But she faced a different calibre of opponent when she met the top-ranked Pole. Kasatkina got an up close look at Swiatek during their previous lopsided matches at the Australian Open, Dubai and Doha – all straight sets to Swiatek, clocking in at around an hour – giving her a clue as to what to expect on Chatrier. 

But even what Kasatkina had been prepared for, was hard to deal with over two sets.

“I think her moving pattern, she's moving really well,” Kasatkina said. “She is reaching a lot of balls. I mean, even some of the balls that you are thinking that the point is over, she's still there, and she's taking the ball pretty early, which makes it really tough.

“It's difficult when the player is moving good, and then she can [translate] this to attack mode.”

Though the sting of defeat may still be fresh for Kasatkina, the 25-year-old was already turning her focus to her next challenge.

Iga Swiatek, Daria Kasatkina, demi-finales, Roland-Garros 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

She will depart from Paris high on confidence, especially after a season which saw her struggle to put together back-to-back victories.

Kasatkina finally caught fire on the clay, reaching her second career WTA 1000 semi-final in Rome and translating her momentum into the biggest Grand Slam result of her life.

And perhaps just as significantly, she’ll get another big win on Monday, when the new WTA rankings are released. The world No.20 is set for a major leap up the rankings, inching ever closer to a return to the top 10.

“I mean, it's been one of my best tournaments in my life,” she reflected. “First time I reach a semi-final on a Grand Slam, and it's best result in a Grand Slam for me.

“Despite the loss today, I'm very happy with the level and with everything what was going on these two weeks.”