Stars on the Rise
It’s not often you find two 20-year-olds creating headlines at one of the biggest events on tour. However, it would be unjust to keep Naomi Osaka and Daria Kasatkina out of any headline with the way the two have been playing lately. Both players find themselves deep in the draw of Indian Wells, and the opponents they’ve defeated en route have been no easy feat.
Japan’s Osaka finds herself in a great position to earn the highest WTA Ranking of her career. Currently the World No. 44, Osaka achieved her highest-ever ranking of 40 in 2016 after reaching the finals at Tokyo. As she continues to harness the magic she’s found in Indian Wells, there’s a good chance she could eclipse that milestone and move into the top 40 for the first time in her career. She’s shown veteran poise in the early rounds of the tournament, no easy task for a young player facing some of the veterans she has faced.
Osaka downed two-time French Open champion Maria Sharapova in the first round in two sets. After making her presence known, Osaka took on another seasoned WTA veteran in Agnieszka Radwanska. Osaka remained unintimidated by the former World No. 2, going on to win the match 6-3, 6-2. Osaka would then go on to defeat Sachia Vickery and Maria Sakkari on her way to the quarterfinals. There, she met World No. 5 Karolina Pliskova, who she also defeated in two sets.
Osaka’s aggressive style and powerful serves have become her signature in this latest run. She’ll draw WTA No. 1 Simona Halep in her semifinals matchup. Play is set to begin Friday March 16, at 11:15pm ET.
World No. 19, February’s WTA Breakthrough Player AND our 2017 champion, Kasatkina had already asserted that 2018 looks to be her year… even before her stellar play in Indian Wells. The 20 year-old Russian broke into the WTA top 20 for the first time after a semifinals appearance in St. Petersburg and finals appearance in Dubai. So far, Kasatkina has continued to build on her 2018 resume already by reaching the Indian Wells quarterfinals.
Kasatkina’s path to the quarterfinals has not been an easy one. The young Russian came away with victories against three straight top 50 opponents on her way. Displaying a new level of confidence, Kasatkina defeated Kateřina Siniaková and Sloane Stephens in two sets each.After knocking out Stephens, the World No.13 and U.S. Open champion, she upset the World No. 2 and Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki for a second time this season, surprising the heavyweight 6-4, 7-5 to advance into the quarterfinals.
Like her counterpart Osaka, Kasatkina also dominated her quarterfinal match in impressive fashion. Taking on the World No. 10 Angelique Kerber, Kasatkina displayed a calm and collected demeanor as she used the full array of her arsenal, landing dropshots and impressively athletic backhands to make short work of the match.
Kasatkina will take on World No. 8 Venus Williams in the semifinals, her match is set to begin today, March 16, at 2:00 pm ET. If she defeats Williams, she will have knocked out the Volvo Car Open’s 2004, 2011, 2015 and 2016 champions.
The play from these two 20-year-olds has been inspired over the last few months, and the magic they’ve been able to capture at Indian Wells has resulted in the youngest pair of semifinalists at the tournament since Victoria Azarenka and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 2009.
These two rising stars will be the hot ticket come April when they take to the courts at the Volvo Car Open!