Indian Wells, California, USA: Naomi Osaka and Daria Kasatkina will meet at the Indian Wells Masters for the BNP Paribas Open title after upset wins over Simona Halep and Venus Williams respectively in the semi-finals on Friday.
37-year-old Venus Williams lost (4-6 6-4 7-5) a thrilling semifinal to 20-year-old Daria Kasatkina. In 2 hours and 48 minutes of delicious drama, of spectacular shot-making sprinkled with seemingly inexcusable unforced errors, Williams was up a break early in the third set with a 2-0 lead but Kasatkina had been finding a steadier level and was reducing her errors, while Williams seemed to hit either a brilliant winner or an unforced error.
They had another long battle in the fifth game, in which Williams held for a 3-2 lead, and Kasatkina easily held for 3-3. Williams managed to hold on and take a 4-3 lead in the third set but Kasatkina won the next game at love to pull even at 4-4. Williams held for 5-4 and was two points from winning the match in the 10th game, but two unforced errors and a forehand winner by Kasatkina kept the match going.
She held for 5-5 and took the next game when Williams double-faulted twice in a row. Two errant forehands by Williams seemed to give Kasatkina strength. Williams had one last moment — a backhand winner at the net — but Kasatkina closed it out. Along the way Kasatkina also sent other greats like Wozniacki and Kerber packing.
“I pretty much come to win tournaments, so if I don’t win, I’m not happy. I’m not here for results and all that stuff.” Venus said after the game.
Unseeded Haitian-Japanese Osaka overcame world No 1 Halep 6-3 6-0, winning nine straight games from 3-3 in the first set to dump the top seed out of the competition. Naomi’s mother is Japanese while her father is from Haiti.
Having stormed to the brink of victory, Osaka was made to work hard in a final game which included six deuces before she got over the line on her third match-point.
Naomi Osaka and Daria Kasatkina defeated six former WTA number ones between them to both reach the Indian Wells final. Naomi beat Sharapova, Pliskova and Halep and Kasatkina defeated Venus Williams, Wozniacki and Kerber.
Naomi Osaka and Daria Kasatkina, both 20, are the youngest Indian Wells finalists since Caro in 2010. Naomi Osaka, the world No. 44 is the lowest-ranked player to reach the Indian Wells final since No. 133 Kim Clijsters won the title in 2005.
On the men’s side, world number one Roger Federer survived a scare from unseeded Borna Coric to beat him 5-7 6-4 6-4 in the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals and keep his bid for a record sixth Indian Wells title alive.
The crowd erupted when Federer broke Coric to love to take the deciding set and end the unexpectedly competitive two-hour 20-minute battle against the 21-year-old Croatian on a windy morning in the California desert.
An upset was on the cards when the speedy Coric used his ferocious backhand to take the first set off the Swiss, the first time Federer had dropped a set at Indian Wells in nine matches. He then broke Federer to start the second set and silence the stunned crowd.