Sixth seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia won her first Kremlin Cup title on Saturday when she beat Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur in a tough three-setter.
The 21-year-old Kasatkina was runner up here last season and this year she had to battle back from a set down to win 2-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 in two hours two minutes to chalk up her second win over the Tunisian 24-year-old in as many meetings.
“I remember 10 years ago when I was a kid I came here and was dreaming that (some day) I would stand on this central court holding the trophy aloft,” Kasatkina said at the award ceremony.
“And now here I am. The dream came true.”
Kasatkina also showed her class when she praised Jabeur for her performance at the event.
“I think it was a good week for you,” she said.
“It was very tough and I saw you gave everything today and that’s what sport is all about. I really appreciate I had this match with you today. I’m sure that it’s not the last final for you.”
The opponents traded breaks at the start then held their serves until the sixth game when Kasatkina suddenly lost her nerve allowing Jabeur to break twice again to take the opening set in 23 minutes.
In the second set tiebreak Kasatkina, ranked 14th in the world, was slightly more accuracy to level the match at one set all after one hour 25 minutes on court.
In the deciding set Jabeur, who was playing her eighth match in eight days, looked obviously tired.
As the set wore on she suffered cramp in her leg and was almost unable to run allowing Kasatkina to produce the deciding break in the 10th game to wrap up the victory.
Jabeur said she was pleased with her performance and promised to come back to Moscow next year.
“I really enjoyed playing here this week,” the Tunisian said. “This is the first WTA premier final for me. Hopefully I will do more here next year.”
Big win for Gulbis
Former top 10 player Ernests Gulbis reached his first final in four years on Saturday when he stunned top seed John Isner 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Stockholm semi-finals.
The 30-year-old Latvian, ranked 145 and who came through qualifying, has never lost a final and will bid for a seventh title on Sunday against world number 16 Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 20-year-old Greek player reached his third final of 2018, beating Italian second seed Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-2.
“The key to the match was to stay patient,” said Tsitsipas, who was runner-up to Rafael Nadal in the Barcelona and Toronto finals this season.
“Fabio was going for shots and the beginning of the match was really tough. I was patient in the rallies. That is how I got the win today.”
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