Kasatkina outlasts Venus to advance to Indian Wells final

World No. 44 Osaka stormed past the top seeded Halep in stunning fashion with a 6-3, 6-0 win, while Russian juggernaut Kasatkina wore down the 37-year-old seven-time Grand Slam victor Venus Williams in three sets 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

The 20-year-old Kasatkina rallied to win the biggest victory of her career and defeat seven-time Grand Slam victor Williams, extending a year-long assault on top players, Grand Slam winners and former world number ones.

Kasatkina will meet Naomi Osaka in the final, after the unseeded player stunned world No. 1 Simona Halep in straight sets later in the day.

"I beat very good players, and in the right moments I was doing the right decisions, so it means I'm growing as a player", Kasatkina said. You're in a night session, you're playing against a legend and you are in the third set.

After earning ovations throughout the tournament with her aggressive shot making, Osaka said she was happy to hear the center court crowd on her side against Halep. "So I just tried to be a little bit annoying and return a lot", explained Osaka.

And although the Czech player fought back to level the scoreline, Osaka found another gear to win four games in a row to end the match.

Up 5-2, Osaka closed out the match with a backhand victor.

Osaka will play the 19th-ranked Daria Kasatkina of Russian Federation for the title on Sunday.

The pressure quickly showed in Kasatkina's game in the second set, too, with an immediate break courtesy of a double fault.

"It's one of the best nights in my life, for sure".

Naomi Osaka has yet to win a tournament, having made the last four of a WTA event for just the second time - adding to her final showing at the Tokyo Pan Pacific Open in 2016.

The turning point in the third set came for Halep after she won a challenge in the eighth game with Martic holding serve.

That may be the only sliver of silver lining Halep can take away from this match-she won't have to worry about facing Osaka in the first two rounds at Roland Garros. A victory in Sunday's final would move her into the top 10. Osaka is yet to win a WTA singles title.

Osaka said after her win against Halep: "I kind of feel the same as she (Kasatkina) said. Very soon", said Kasatkina with a smile, following her 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 success over Williams.

"I think we were both nervous at the beginning, because the biggest finals so far, " Kasatkina said.

Friday's semi-final will pit the 37-year-old American against 20-year-old Kastakina, who needed less than an hour to defeat former world No. 1 Kerber earlier on Thursday.

In the evening session, world No. 44 Osaka broke Pliskova's serve six times in her 78-minute upset on the main stadium court.

  • Rosalie Stanley