WATCH: Kasatkina stopped by the Tennis Channel Live Desk after her first WTA Finals win of the week.

FORT WORTH, Texas—They call it a knockout draw for a reason: one strike and you’re out. Not so in the WTA Finals’ unique round-robin format, where group action plays out over three matches, win or lose.

Daria Kasatkina admitted took getting used to in press on Thursday.

“It was not easy, I must say,” she said after rallying to 1-1 in the Tracy Austin Group standings with a win over Coco Gauff, “because normally if you lost you're just like, ‘Okay, the tournament is done. I pack my bags and I go to the airport.’ And here is completely different.”

Though Kasatkina appeared resolute in the wake of a deflating opening loss to top seed Iga Swiatek, the No. 8 seed, who has compared her internal monologue to a “hurricane,” had a more complex emotional reaction.

“I had to push myself to practice next day like nothing happened and prepare for the next match,” she explained, bemused. “Yeah, that was interesting. I felt unusual, let's say, but pretty happy how I handled the situation which was quite new for me.”

Where Kasatkina had one loss to shake off, Gauff was fit to be tied after three straight defeats—two in doubles with Jessica Pegula. Fighting through tears in the opening set after losing a 4-1 lead, the American was ultimately overawed by Kasatkina, who improved to 3-0 against the teenager as Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd looked on.


With one group match to go, the win turns round robin into an effective early knockout: tied with next opponent Caroline Garcia, the winner of their Saturday clash advances into the semifinals. The loser is out.

“For me, this one is more understandable,” Kasatkina said with hardly concealed relief at avoiding a potential tiebreaker or otherwise obscure advancement scenario. “So, the thing which I used to actually. “This is exactly what we face every single week.”

One thing she doesn’t face every week is a hyper-aggressive Garcia, who has commanded attention with an audacious return stance that puts her inches from the service line.

“I'll try to be a goalkeeper there on the court,” joked the football fan. “Basically, she's super aggressive player. Me? Maybe not that aggressive, of course, but more mixed. So, it's gonna be interesting to see how both of us we're going to face this match, because it’s a very important match. For me, can be the last one of the season. She's going to be super motivated, but also there is pressure in the air. I think it's going to be mental, a lot mentally.

“The beginning of the match is very important,” she added with the insight of a budding Tennis Channel analyst. “So, keep an eye on the beginning of the match.”

At least one match stands between her and a third off-season in the Maldives—“Basic, I know!”—but between a breakout season and having already made it through the tournament’s biggest hurdles, Kasatkina hopes to have a few more knockouts in her before week’s end.