Daria Kasatkina’s first semi-final at Roland-Garros

We had at least one certainty before the quarter-final which pitted Daria Kasatkina (seed 20) against Veronika Kudermetova (seed 29): the winner of this 100% Russian shock would rally for the first time the last four of a Grand Slam tournament. Beaten in the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros, then at Wimbledon, four years ago, Kasatkina took over her compatriot 6-4, 7-6 (5) in 2:08. She still hasn’t given up a set since the start of the fortnight and will now face the winner of the clash between Iga Swiatek and Jessica Pegula.

Kasatkina could have saved herself the pangs of a tie-break but the stress overwhelmed her as she served for the match at 6-4, 5-4. Her anemic services (just over 100 km/h) allowed her rival to come back up to par and to maintain hope. But Kudermetova signed a catastrophic start to the tie-break. Four unforced errors on the first five points sanctioned his sometimes excessive risk-taking. Led 6-1, they nevertheless dismissed four match points. But the fifth was the good one, Kasatkina slipping during the exchange a marvel of amortized backhand.

Much more powerful (38 winning shots), Kudermetova scuttled herself by investigating … 50 unforced errors. More stable, but also smarter tactically (especially in defense), Kasatkina made her science of the game prevail.

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