By Jake Davies

  • Daria Kasatkina [6] defeats Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-3
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – Johanna Konta fell in the semi-final stage of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow as she was handily beaten by last year’s finalist Daria Kasatkina in straight sets.

 

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Daria Kasatkina [6] def. Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-3

It had been quite the whirlwind week for the British No.1 player Johanna Konta, who had dropped outside of the World’s Top-40 then made that difficult decision to part ways with coach Michael Joyce in the preparation for the tournament in Moscow.

Konta had enjoyed plenty of very good performances this week, making the semi-final of a tournament for just the second time in a disappointing season, but the Brit simply came up against an in-form and inspired performance from Daria Kasatkina who always seems to raise her game for this particular stop on tour.

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Kasatkina had started off the match far better, settling into the trade-offs from the baseline quicker and deserved to have taken five of the first seven games of the match. The Russian’s serve still looked problematic and it looked like an area of her game where Konta could find some inroads, but Kasatkina was a menace on the return of serve and generally enjoyed plenty of success in many of the baseline exchanges.

There were two big stumbling blocks in Kasatkina’s performance. The first coming at 5-2, where some of her shot selection was questionable at best, and that allowed Konta to get back on serve and break back, but she was unable to take advantage and keep hold of the momentum for a sustained period, as Kasatkina reasserted her dominance on the match-up.

The second stumble was in the first game of the second set, where Konta momentarily held a break lead, but that was where the Russian really stepped up her level, and really raced away with the win in a much more one-sided second set of tennis.

Konta never really moved away from her usual strategy. The British No.1 maintained her aggressive court position, kept hold of the baseline and never varied her pace or the aggressiveness of her groundstrokes, which proved to be her undoing.

Kasatkina displayed the additional layers and changes in tactics that she could implement in a single match. Kasatkina does not always use her tools in the right moments, but she had a greater feel for change in the heat of the battle, and it was that that made the telling difference.

The unforced errors mounted up for Konta towards the end as she simply tried to hit her way out of trouble, but her baseline consistency truly was tested at the highest level in that disappointing second set of tennis.

Despite the loss, Konta can look back on the tournament with positives. A semi-final at a big event at tour-level is always great for the confidence and it has come at the right time as she bids to have some good performances to hold on to in preparation the new season next year, where she will feel she has plenty of ground to gain in the rankings if she gets it right often enough.

 

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