Daria Kasatkina had a simple goal heading into her Credit One Charleston Open semifinal against Jessica Pegula: win two games.

“In Tokyo, I think I lost, 6-1, 6-0, so that was the strategy, actually,” Kasatkina told Steve Weissman on Saturday.

“After I won two in the first set, I was like, ‘Yes! I did it!’”

Kasatkina went on to win a whopping 17 games against Pegula this time, including a deciding tiebreaker to knock out the top seed, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5), rallying from 1-3 down in the Sudden Death.

“One day you’re winning match from match points, next day, you’re going to lose,” said Kasatkina, referencing Pegula’s great escape from four match points down against Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals. “I call it, ‘tennis drama,’ It has to be like this.”

Despite an 0-2 head-to-head against the former world No. 3, Kasatkina is a proven commodity on clay and on these courts, having won the title back in 2017 to kickstart her ascent towards the Top 10.

After reversing a 2-4 deficit to win the opening set, the No. 4 seed battled back from losing the second and falling behind 0-2 in the third. Playing most of the decider with a bandaged right leg, she nonetheless showed off some incredible hands on match point, flicking a forehand passing shot past Pegula to win the contest in two hours and 47 minutes.


“I hope it was just a little cramp after spending more than five hours on court, sliding a lot,” said Kasatkina, who is coming off back-to-back three-setters against Jacqueline Cristian and Pegula to reach her third final of the season. “It’s the first tournament on clay, so still, the body is not adapted 100%. It’s good that I was able to continue and running pretty well and sliding. That’s a good sign. So now, it’s time to prepare, get ready and do the maximum that I can to get ready for the final.”

Awaiting her there will be an on-fire Danielle Collins, who is looking to win consecutive titles after triumphing at the Miami Open last week. Where Collins has won 12 straight matches, Kasatkina will have plenty of crowd support, having become a fan favorite thanks to her *What the Vlog?* YouTube series.

“I go day by day, point by point, and then we’re gonna see because in tennis, you never know. All the girls are playing amazing. Danielle is killing everyone, so we’ll see how it’s going to be. I’m just happy with what I was able to get through today because it was very tough and there were tough moments, thinking about the leg. Even if you don’t have a serious injury, you don’t want to make it worse. I’m really proud how I was able to get through this difficult moment.”

Will the tough moments pay off in the form of a second Charleston trophy? Kasatkina won’t think too far ahead as she aims to win at least 12 games on Sunday.