The battle of the 19-year-olds in Charleston turned out to be an extremely one-sided affair as the 2014 Roland Garros Juniors champion Daria Kasatkina showed her endless qualities on a clay court by beating Jelena Ostapenko in the final.
The match-up had everything. The defensive-minded Kasatkina coming up against the flatter ball striker and more aggressive Ostapenko, who admittedly would have enjoyed the faster conditions presented on a grass court.
The two opposing styles were clear for all to see from the beginning of the match as both players held their serve twice before three breaks came in succession. Kasatkina was the more secure from the baseline and broke Ostapenko three times to take the first set 6-3.
Ostapenko hit a total of 40 winners in her quarter-final match against Miami Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki, but she struggled to execute the same patterns of play and the same approach in a different setting of a WTA final. The Latvian continued to hit error after error and seemed to be looking for answers, but persisted with the same game style, which ultimately was the difference in this match.
Kasatkina controlled the second set even more comfortably and won nine of the last 10 games to completely dominate her rival and win her first WTA title.
The World No. 66 Ostapenko paid the price for restricting herself to the same approach from start to finish. The lack of a secondary game plan to seek upon when things were not going as planned really hurt her, and it is something that other WTA players will be aware of in the months and years ahead.
Kasatkina now will rise back inside the World’s Top 30 once again and should be a player to look out for in the upcoming big clay tournaments leading up to Roland Garros. This win in Charleston marks a real breakthrough for one of the brightest rising stars in the women’s game.
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