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Two Teens Take Out the Vets
By: Joel Drucker

Though Daria Kasatkina is 19 years old, you’d hardly know it from the maturity she showed in beating Laura Siegemund 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals of the Volvo Car Open. 

It was an intriguing matchup.  Here was Siegemund, the 29-year-old late bloomer who this week had beaten three seeds with a dazzling array of speeds and spins.  Kasatkina, also tactically astute, was seeking to reach her first WTA singles final.

Siegemund served at 4-2 in the first set.  But upon missing an easy forehand volley to lose her serve, she called for her coach, Markus Gentner --- and promptly snapped up two games to take the set, 6-3.

Kasatkina remained cool as a cucumber.  Her coach, Vlademir Platenek, made a visit after the first set.  With Siegemund serving at 2-3 in the second, the two played a 12-minute game – and upon winning it, Kasatkina was off to the races, soon enough going up 5-0 in the third and winning the final set 6-1.    

“I was so nervous during the match and before the match, because even you are not to think about these things, they are coming to your head anyway.  So it was a tough, tough match.  It was more about mental than the game.”

The second semi also went the distance.  Jelena Ostapenko’s magical Volvo Car Open debut continued.  It took the 19-year-old Latvian two hours and six minutes to earn a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

Early on in the match it was all Ostapenko, her forceful groundstrokes taking her one service hold away from the finals.  But then, with Ostapenko keen to close it out at 5-4, 30-15, Lucic-Baroni stepped up, taking 11 of the next 13 points to level it.  With the joy that’s marked her resurgence, Lucic-Baroni broke into a grin.  But once the third got underway, Ostapenko had the reason to smile – breaking to start the decider and eventually serving it at out at 15. 

Said an elated Ostapenko afterwards, “In the third set I was just trying to be calm because I think it was tougher for her because I didn’t show any emotions.”

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