Defending champ Kasatkina routs Begu to reach Charleston quarterfinals

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — After being pressed in her opening match Tuesday night against Christina McHale, Daria Kasatkina made sure there wouldn’t be a repeat of that performance today.

The No. 3 seed routed 13th-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2, 6-1, in just over an hour. She’ll next play Julia Goerges in the quarterfinals.

If Kasatkina’s performance today was any indication, that should be an entertaining encounter.

The young Russian got an early break against Begu, whom she beat here last year in the quarterfinals, to take a 3-1 lead. The Romanian tried to recover the next game, but Kasatkina held at 30 to stretch her advantage to 4-1.

Match point from Kasatkina's victory over Begu in Charleston: 

Kasatkina was relentless, leaping into her backhand and eventually gaining a break point. Begu rallied, but that would be her last hold of the set as Kasatkina broke her while she served down 5-2.

The second set started off following the same pattern as the first, where Kasatkina raced to a 3-1 lead. However, this time Begu was unable to eke out another game as the Russian continued to keep her off-balance with a mix of outstanding defense and controlled aggression.

Up 5-1, Kasatkina served an ace on the first point and clinched the match with a drop shot that Begu couldn’t track down.

Dating back to last year, when she came in as an unseeded player and left as the champion, Kasatkina has now won eight matches in a row in Charleston. It’s been a solid start to 2018 for the 20-year-old, who’s notched a career-high ranking and reached the final in Indian Wells.

She’s tackling this tournament like a seasoned veteran ready to defend a title, and has continued to show she finds the clay here to her liking.

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