In a three-hour battle that ended at midnight on Centre Court at the Aviation Club, Daria Kasatkina capitalised on her youth to prevail 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2, saving two match points along the way.
The 20-year-old Russian upset the No. 7 seed and joked after the marathon match that she could go out there and start another contest.
“It was such a tough match. We spent like three hours on the court, but felt like one hour on a court because I was so much in the match, yeah,” said Kasatkina, who faces her fellow Russian Elena Vesnina in Thursday’s quarter-finals. .
“But now I feel a bit weird, yeah, because it’s done. It was such a big battle, such a big fight. So I’m just happy that I survive.”
It was a tug of war throughout with the first set lasting 59 minutes and the second going even longer – 76 minutes to be exact.
Kasatkina produced every shot in the book to survive that tiebreak, pulling off a curling forehand that landed in the corner, reminiscent of her favourite player, Rafael Nadal.
— WTA (@WTA) February 21, 2018
She saved two match points relying on some incredible variety, and won the set on a challenge that showed her ball had clipped the line.
The world No. 24 admits her mind was all over the place during the encounter and it was instinct that got her through in the end.
“I didn’t control my emotions, so… Really, I was just playing with my instincts, and that’s it, because my head was not working anymore,” said Kasatkina.
Referring to that challenge on set point in the second set, she added: “Oh, my God, that shot.
“I decided to challenge just in the last moment. Normally if you are watching from the side, you immediately say ‘challenge’ on this one. I was standing there thinking maybe it’s not. I had four challenges in this tiebreak, and I was thinking to challenge the ball, the only one my set point. Can you imagine what was happening in my head?”
Konta conceded that she ran out of steam towards the end of the match.
“At one point I was laughing, I did think we were playing two separate matches because she looked fresh as a daisy. That was not a great feeling,” said the 26-year-old Konta.
Down a set and a break, a down and out Kasatkina got a much-needed pep talk from coach Philip Dehaes.
“You’re very close. You want this? It’s beautiful out here. The weather is nice. Let’s stay another two hours.”
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) February 21, 2018
Kasatkina knows she’s due back on court in less than 24 hours for her quarter-final. Asked how she thinks she’ll recover, she said: “Thanks God I’m still young. Yeah, I have still some power, some energy. But of course we will see tomorrow because now I’m under adrenaline, so I don’t feel anything.
“Actually, I’m ready to go and play another one,” she added with a laugh. “But tomorrow we will see.”