Paribas Open: 20-Year-Olds, Kasatkina, Osaka Face-Off In Final

Paribas Open: 20-Year-Olds, Kasatkina, Osaka Face-Off In Final

epa06609354 Naomi Osaka from Japan in action during her semi-final match against Simona Halep from Romania at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 16 March 2018 (issued 17 March 2018).

In something of a surprise final, 20th seed Daria Kasatkina of Russian Federation takes on Japan's Naomi Osaka.

Unseeded Japanese Roger Federer has earned a spot in the semi-finals of the Paribas Open here after beating Hyeon Chung in straight setsOsaka overcame World No. 1 Halep 6-3, 6-0. The Russian has been toppling big names all tournament long, also defeating US Open champion Sloane Stephens and World No 2 Caroline Wozniacki on the way to the semi-finals.

The final will take place on Sunday, and it will be a huge boost in either of the players' rankings when they win.

Neither Kasatkina nor Osaka have much experience in big matches, with the latter's only career final coming in Tokyo in 2016.

Williams' gambit was a double-edged sword, however. Kasatkina held at 5-2 but won just one point on Osaka's final service game.

Kasatkina said: "She was much better today than me, so she really deserved to win". When Kasatkina was serving at 3-4, her topspin forehand suddenly become a liability.

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Things subsequently unraveled for Williams in the 10th game. She giggled and meandered her way through the trophy ceremony, changing tacks repeatedly and finally concluding, "This is probably going to be the worst acceptance speech of all time".

The problems continued in what proved to be the final game of the match.

Daria Kasatkina (20), Russia, def. Venus Williams (8), United States, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. Kasatkina sealed the win when Williams hit a backhand into the net on the second match point. This took her to 40th in the world at just 18, but some changes were needed to take her game to the next level.

"I just knew that she was going to fight for every point, too", said Osaka. Osaka simply dominated the top ranked player in the world by using her overwhelming power and not letting Halep get comfortable. Fellow 20-year-old Naomi Osaka pretended she wasn't, and that made the difference.

Osaka visibly flinched when streamers were shot off. Their 2:48 drama pushed Friday night's second semifinal to a later start, which Osaka was ready for and, clearly, Halep wasn't.

Twelve months ago, the last two women standing were both over 30: Elina Vesnina beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in a three-set thriller, to claim by far her biggest career title, and four years after her only other two.