Naomi upsets World No.1 Halep to reach Indian wells final

Hope Soto
March 19, 2018

Standing in the way of Osaka's first WTA championship at Indian Wells is another 20-year-old, Russian 20th seed Daria Kasatkina, who prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a almost three-hour semifinal battle with eighth seed Venus Williams.

"I wasn't that aggressive, " Osaka said.

Naomi Osaka from Japan in action during her semi-final match against Simona Halep from Romania at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 16 March 2018 (issued 17 March 2018).

"You're like, 'Come on, maybe it's the moment of your life.' To play Venus Williams on center court in the United States, in the semifinals, one of the biggest tournaments, you just put your heart out there". Neither player has won before at Indian Wells. I was just, like, Aaaaah, okay, that was pretty nice. I was definitely not feeling the best.

Osaka, who is the youngest Indian Wells women's finalist since Wozniacki in 2010, is now 3-4 lifetime against top-five opposition, while Kasatkina now owns five top-10 victories in 2018.

"I don't really know what's going on right now, " she said, smiling.

"I think we were both nervous at the beginning, because the biggest finals so far", Kasatkina said. "I was really stressed out the entire time but I am really happy I could end it fast". However, that proved to be the last time Halep got on the scoreboard as Osaka reeled off nine straight games to reach the final.

Pliskova had just one chance to break in the opener, but it was quickly brushed aside by a backhand down the line from Osaka.

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"I was just trying to play consistent this whole tournament and to beat someone like her with the score line like this, I think I've sort of done what I've meant to do, so I'm really happy about that", Osaka said.

Osaka's opponent in the final is fellow 20-year-old Kasatkina, the 20th seed from Russian Federation, who earlier defeated American eighth seed Williams 4-6 6-4 7-5.

"I just didn't feel the ball at all".

Kasatkina took advantage of a sub-par serving night from the more powerful Williams as the match progressed, forcing long rallies that ultimately wore her 37-year-old opponent down.

The result continued an especially remarkable tournament for Kasatkina, who has also knocked out US Open champion Sloane Stephens, Australian Open victor and world number two Caroline Wozniacki and Germany's world number 10 Angelique Kerber. She's hitting hard. She has a good serve.

Before last year's US Open, Kasatkina had never made it past the third round at a Grand Slam.

Osaka did not allow Kasatkina a scent of a way back, losing just four points on serve in the second set and claiming the title with a backhand volley.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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