Daria Kasatkina vs Naomi Osaka WTA Indian Wells tennis preview, predictions and tips: Kasatkina and Osaka clash for the first time with Indian Wells title on the line

Andrew Hendrie in WTA 18 Mar 2018
  • Daria Kasatkina vs Naomi Osaka is live from Indian Wells at 11.00am local time on Sunday (6.00pm GMT)
  • First ever meeting between the pair
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Indian Wells at Unibet > live streaming > tennis
Daria Kasatkina (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The future is here - 20-year-old sensations Daria Kasatkina and Naomi Osaka square off for the first WTA Premier Mandatory title of the season at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Sunday.

Watch and bet on Kasatkina vs Osaka live tennis from Indian Wells at Unibet > live streaming > tennis. The final begins at 11.00am local time on Sunday (6.00pm GMT).

Daria Kasatkina and Naomi Osaka have enjoyed dream runs to the BNP Paribas Open final - but only one can claim the prestigious Premier Mandatory silverware on Sunday as the rising stars battle for the Indian Wells title. Kasatkina and Osaka have both scored multiple marquee victories over the last fortnight, with the Russian beating four Grand Slam champions on the bounce and the Japanese star conquering two top five players in her last two matches. It promises to be an electrifying encounter as Kasatkina and Osaka take to court at 11.00am local time on Sunday (6.00pm GMT).

Kasatkina has been a rather prominent figure on the WTA Tour for quite a while now despite her tender age, but over the last six months or so (and especially over the last month), she’s really stepped up and showcased her top 10 talent and Grand Slam winning potential.

It all started towards end of last season as Kasatkina reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open (beating French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko), the Premier Mandatory China Open quarter-finals in Beijing, the Round of 16 in Wuhan (defeating Simona Halep) and the final at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow (falling to an in-form Julia Goerges) to finish 2017 ranked inside the top 25 - a solid end to the year after some disappointing moments during the first half of the season, notwithstanding picking up a first WTA title on the green clay of Charleston.

Kasatkina went a disappointing 1-3 during the Australian summer in January, losing in the opening round of Brisbane and Sydney and the second round of the Australian Open to Magda Linette, but she’s been on fire ever since. Kasatkina beat recently-crowned Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki on her way to the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy semi-finals before conquering Johanna Konta, Elena Vesnina and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza on her way to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship final, losing to Elina Svitolina - and she’s taken her game to new heights in Indian Wells.


Kasatkina didn’t drop a set on her way to the semi-finals in victories over Katerina Siniakova, U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, Australian Open winner Caroline Wozniacki and two-time major champion and former World No. 1 Angelique Kerber, producing some sparkling tennis as she took down some of the biggest names in the sport. The 20-year-old, who will break into the top 10 if she wins the title, then ran into seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in the final four on Friday, coming through a titanic tussle that lasted almost three hours by a 4-6 6-4 7-5 scoreline to reach the biggest final of her career.

"Match like this, you're just speechless," Kasatkina said after the win. "Even [when] I meet my coach and my brother after the match, I was not able to say anything. I was just, like, 'Aaaaah, okay, that was pretty nice.' Too many emotions and you cannot explain everything."

Naomi Osaka (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Kasatkina’s fellow 20-year-old Naomi Osaka - who will find herself in the world’s top 30 when the new rankings are released on Monday - has also experienced a breakout tournament on one of the tour’s biggest stages. Osaka’s campaign started with a convincing straight sets dispatch of five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova and just as impressively, she backed performance up against a completely different kind of player in the following round, taking out former World No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska easily, 6-3 6-2. Osaka then ended the run of qualifier Sachia Vickery 6-3 6-3 in the third round before dropping her only set of the tournament so far in a 6-1 5-7 6-1 triumph over Maria Sakkari, bouncing back strongly from the disappointment of failing to close out the match in the second.

Osaka’s tournament hit new heights from the quarter-finals onwards, with the rising Japanese star registering back-to-back top five victories over fifth seed Karolina Pliskova and World No. 1 and 2015 Indian Wells champion Simona Halep. And Osaka didn’t just beat Pliskova and Halep - she completely dominated them, easing past Pliskova 6-2 6-3 before dropping just three games against Halep in Friday’s semi-finals. In one of the most impressive performances in recent memory, Osaka reeled off the final nine games of the match to thunder past Halep 6-3 6-0 and make her first ever Premier Mandatory final, while at the same time avenging her Australian Open loss to the Romanian.

"I just really tried to be consistent. I think in Australia I just made way too many mistakes, and I sort of handed her the match, so I just tried to be a little bit annoying and return a lot,” Osaka said after the win.

Osaka is now 14-4 for the season, making the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time at the Australian Open before making the second round of Doha and the quarter-finals of Dubai. And now, buy virtue of making the Indian Wells final, Osaka will rise to at least No. 26 in the world when the new rankings are released on Monday - after starting the year at No. 68.

It was only two weeks ago that Kasatkina was teaching Osaka how to hit a tweener - now they will square off for the biggest titles of their careers. The pair have never played before at tour-level, and with both players operating at the peak of their powers at the moment, this is shaping as a blockbuster encounter. The slow Indian Wells courts certainly favour more defensive-orientated players - like Kasatkina - but Osaka has hit that theory out of the ballpark after completely dismantling arguably the greatest retriever in the sport in Halep. It’s honestly toss of the coin stuff at this point, but I’m going to lean with Kasatkina - her overall solid game is more likely to be steadier in the pressure-cooker environment of a Premier Mandatory final and she should be able to frustrate Osaka into error as a result.



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Daria Kasatkina vs Naomi Osaka WTA Indian Wells tennis preview, predictions and tips: Kasatkina and Osaka clash for the first time with Indian Wells title on the line

The future is here - 20-year-old sensations Daria Kasatkina and Naomi Osaka square off for the first WTA Premier Mandatory title of the season at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Sunday.

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