Tennis

San Jose | Kasatkina and Rogers make WTA 500 final

Daria Kasatkina from Russia will meet America’s Shelby Rogers in the final of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, California, on Sunday, after both pulled off straight-set upset defeats of Paula Badosa and Veronika Kudermetova in Saturday’s semi-finals.

Amazing! This is the position you want to be in every single week. This is what we train for. As much as you sacrifice and put in the work, it’s just nice to see it all come together. This is probably one of the most fun weeks that I’ve had on tour. That says a lot about why I’m playing well. Shelby Rogers

Kasatkina, the World No 12 and seeded 7 here, toppled 4th-ranked Badosa, the 2nd seed, 6-2 6-4, while Rogers, ranked 45 in the world, beat 19th-ranked Kudermetova, 6-3 6-4, to reach her 3rd career final and her first since a runner-up finish in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

It was Kasatkina’s 2nd win in 3 career meetings with Spain’s Badosa, and she roared through the opening set without facing a break point, playing loose and fearless tennis, when Badosa called for the trainer, who checked her blood pressure.

The Spaniard made the brighter start in the second, with an early break to go up 2-0, but Kasatkina, who beat Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and No 4 seed Aryna Sabalenka, proved too strong on the day, breaking Badosa twice to snatch a 4-3 lead and, after another exchange of breaks, she served for the match, converting on her first match point.

The Roland Garros semi-finalist arrived to only her second tournament since having to miss Wimbledon due to the All England Club’s ban of Russian and Belarusian players, and her first since coming out as gay in a powerful documentary produced by vlogger Vitya Kravchenko.

Badosa has enjoyed a resurgence of her own in San Jose, narrowly defeating American Elizabeth Mandlik, and rallying from a break down in the opening set to dismiss Roland Garros runner-up Coco Gauff in straight sets.

25-year-old Kasatkina has quietly put together one of the best seasons of her career, having made back-to-back semi-finals in Rome and Roland Garros, and now a win away from returning to the Top 10 for the first time since 2019.

As she has done all week, Kasatkina played a disciplined and contained game to bait Badosa into hitting herself out of the match.

Kasatkina struck 11 winners to 11 unforced errors, while Badosa struck 16 winners to 30 unforced errors.

The Russian rolled through the opening set after 30 minutes, but was forced to rally from a break down twice in the second set to seal her 4th win over a Top 5 opponent this season.

A delighted Shelby Rogers defeated Veronika Kudermetova to reach the San Jose final without dropping a set all week

© Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Rogers continued her impressive week in Northern California that included an opening win over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, a victory over World No 3 Maria Sakkari, the top seed, and topping compatriot Amanda Anisimova, while she has not lost more than 4 games in any set she has played.

In fact, the 29-year-old has yet to drop a set this week, and she started strongly against Kudermetova with a break in the very first game of the match.

The Russian dropped her serve again to surrender the first set, but opened the second by breaking the American before Rogers levelled proceedings, only to be broken again to trail 3-4.

She won the next 3 games, though, to seal the victory after an hour and 20 minutes, advancing to her first final in 6 years.

“Amazing,” Rogers said. “This is the position you want to be in every single week.

“This is what we train for. As much as you sacrifice and put in the work, it’s just nice to see it all come together.

“This is probably one of the most fun weeks that I’ve had on tour. That says a lot about why I’m playing well.”

The warm conditions during the day have fed right into Rogers’ serve and, through her 4 matches, she has been broken just 3 times.

Rogers will be looking to finally break through to win her first career title on Sunday against Kasatkina, who was a finalist in San Jose last year.

“Playing two times in a row the finals here in San Jose it means it’s a special place for me,” Kasatkina said. “I love her, she’s a great person.

“I’m really happy to share this day and special moment with her on the court. It will be good memories. But of course, on the court, we will fight against each other, but at the end of the day it will be special.”

Between the two finalists, the head-to-head is tied at 1-1, with Kasatkina winning their last meeting in May at Roland Garros, and Rogers taking their only meeting on a hard court, which came in 2017 in Miami.

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