Stephens had already labelled her run to the quarter-finals a personal milestone having bowed out four times previously in the fourth round. It could explain why the US Open champion looked so at ease on Friday, teeing off at will to leave Kasatkina scrambling about the baseline, skidding wide and throwing up defensive lobs just to stay alive.
The Russian 15th seed had beaten Stephens en route to the Indian Wells final in March and on Sunday returned to finish off a fourth-round upset of second seed Wozniacki in a match held over two days.
While tired, Kasatkina admitted she had come up against a better opponent on the day. “I was feeling that the conditions was pretty good for her, better than for me, because I couldn't make a winner,” Kasatkina said.
“Anything I was spinning, it was just on a good spot for her. And she was moving unbelievable.”
With former world champion boxer Mike Tyson watching on, Stephens’ tactics were clear from the get-go. As the heavier hitter of the two, the match would be won or lost on her terms with Kasatkina having to counterpunch, hoping to outmanoeuvre her opponent or wait for the error.
For Stephens, the winners flowed and those errors never really came.