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March 16, 2018

Daria Kasatkina

Indian Wells, California

D. KASATKINA/V. Williams

4-6, 6-4, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That went well. I mean, talk a little bit about that final set in particular, if you can.
DARIA KASATKINA: Ah, I mean, it was amazing match. I mean, almost three hours. I was missing these feelings after Dubai. I didn't play three-set matches.

Yeah, I think from the side the match looked pretty good. From my side, it was tough, but I think for spectators it was nice to watch.

Q. When you held for 5-5 and you were two points away from losing, just try and explain what was going through your mind.
DARIA KASATKINA: Nothing (smiling). I mean, if there will be some thoughts or something, I would lose for sure. And you're missing the points like this in such important moment, you're, like, better not to think even about, like, anything. Because if you start to think, then you go serving, and I didn't put first serve, by the way. It was tough moment, but somehow I manage it.

Q. Could you talk about the dropshot you did on the 5-All?
DARIA KASATKINA: You mean the dropshot which I -- which one?

Q. Third set, 5-All. The game where you broke.
DARIA KASATKINA: Ah, it was 15-Love or first point? Which doesn't reach?

Yeah, somehow it just happens. I don't really, like, thinking about it, especially when it's 5-All in the third set. You just feel it and you do it. It was by instinct, for sure.

Q. Looked like Venus was playing really, really well and she was putting so much power on her shots. How do you think you managed to counter that?
DARIA KASATKINA: As my coach said, she's 37 years old, I am 20, so I should go for three sets and then... Yeah.

Yeah, she was playing really good, honestly. It was really tough match, so... Yeah. I must, like, give her respect, because she's playing amazing, really.

Q. You told Naomi Osaka to do a 'tweener. How bad is she at doing 'tweeners?
DARIA KASATKINA: She's bad (smiling). Yeah, I don't know. She cannot get it. But she can hit the ball. You see. I mean, she's leading.

Yeah. But if she will keep trying, I think she can do it better, because at the end of the lesson, she was already putting ball in. Technically, it was so-so, but the ball was going in, at least.

Q. How did it happen? Why did you teach her to hit a 'tweener?
DARIA KASATKINA: (Pointing to WTA moderator.)

Q. You arranged?
DARIA KASATKINA: Yeah. Estelle just wrote me, like, if -- no. First she ask me if I can do 'tweener. I was like, Should I say yes or no? I said, yes.

And then the WTA, they managed this, like, funny practice, and, yeah. It was fun.

Q. Can you try and walk us through the emotions you're feeling making the final of a premier event and beating Venus. Because you said you're at a loss for words. Can you try and explain how you feel?
DARIA KASATKINA: Match like this, you're just speechless. Even 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, like, explain everything.

Q. First of all, this is pretty good for a terrible press conference. You're doing great.

Q. But you talked about your increasing confidence. Do you think you might win this tournament and win that little tournament they have in Paris at Roland Garros? Do you think you can go deep there, too?
DARIA KASATKINA: You're going too far, I guess. It is a few more tournaments on the hard court and the clay court, as well. Important tournaments, by the way.

I still have very tough opponent, anyway, in the final. So I have to be really focused on the next match. Not thinking about, like, for the future, which is going to be in few months.

I'm just -- I will try to forget this match. Today is not possible, but tomorrow, for sure.

Q. But Naomi was leading. What are your thoughts?
DARIA KASATKINA: She is leading. We are same age, first of all, yeah. Actually, we didn't play juniors. I didn't see her in juniors.

But she's playing really well. She's hitting hard. She has a good serve. She improving so much, so she's really dangerous player.

Q. You said obviously it was a tough match and you said it was a tough match, but -- and you hoped that the crowd enjoyed it. But when you're in the middle of a match like that, can you enjoy what's actually happening there or it's just not possible?
DARIA KASATKINA: Sometimes I was even smiling on the court. Yeah, like, in one moment you just catch yourself, like, you're in night session, all crowd, you're playing against a legend, and you are in the third set, for example. And you're just staying on the return, and you're like, Come on, maybe it's the moment of your life.

Yeah, for sure you are enjoying these moments.

Q. And just in case Simona turns this match around and ends up winning, what are your thoughts about possibly playing Simona in the final?
DARIA KASATKINA: She's No. 1. She's one of the best players in the world, so it's gonna be very tough match, of course.

What else I can say about No. 1 in the world? Yeah, I have to show my best tennis if I want to beat her.

Q. Do you remember the first times you saw Venus on television or whatever as a young kid?
DARIA KASATKINA: I don't remember. It was a long time ago. Many times, yeah. I don't remember at all.

Q. As you were saying, the bigness of today, you had so many big matches here, but your mental toughness, you have shown no nerves, at least outwardly, especially in those big moments like in the third set. Where does that come from? Where are you drawing this confidence and just incredibly, like, ice in your veins?
DARIA KASATKINA: From cold Russia (smiling).

Q. This is a Russian mindset?
DARIA KASATKINA: Yeah, we are always unhappy. We are strong mentally. So this is our individual part.

Q. Besides actually winning the match, what were you most proud of from the match today?
DARIA KASATKINA: That I really stay strong on the 5-4, Love-30. It was the toughest moment of the match. Yeah.

I didn't feel nervous, even when I didn't put her serve in. I knew what to do. So it was the most important part of the match, I guess.

Q. Other than she's 37 and you're 20, how did your coach help you prepare today strategically?
DARIA KASATKINA: Actually, he didn't put attention on this point, only during the match.

I don't know. I don't know what to answer. Oh, my God, I'm tired. My brain is not working well. That's okay. Sorry.

Q. I'm a little confused. You said Russians are always unhappy, but you seem very happy.
DARIA KASATKINA: When we are winning, we are pretty happy. But during the normal, like, standing process, you can see, like, everything is bad.

I didn't put one out of ten forehands. Shit. So, yeah, something like that.

Q. You said that you didn't care who you were going to play today. You just wanted to play prime time, 7:00. What was that experience like?
DARIA KASATKINA: Great. As I said already, the crowd were unbelievable. And to play Venus Williams on center court in the United States, in the semifinals, one of the biggest tournaments, you just put your heart there, and that's it.

Q. You said that standing at the line, crowd roaring, playing a legend, this is the night of your life. So is this the best night of your life in terms of just getting that win and the way that you played in front of that crowd?
DARIA KASATKINA: Tough to say, but maybe, yeah. Maybe one of the best nights in my life, for sure. Yeah, it was pretty emotional.

Q. How did you feel on the forehand tonight? Because from the outside it seemed in the beginning that maybe you were not feeling it so well.
DARIA KASATKINA: Yeah, it was pretty cold, so the ball was not flying that well, like for example yesterday. Yesterday it was? Yeah.

Yeah. So I was using more slice from the backhand and was trying to put it a little bit, not spinning so much the ball. You know, the conditions was like this, so I had to get used to it, for sure.

Q. How will you spend tomorrow after three hours on the court night? How will you recover and prepare for the final?
DARIA KASATKINA: Sleeping. Sleeping. Yeah, I will go for a short practice, I think, and enjoy the day before the finals.

Q. What do you think your greatest strength as a player is?
DARIA KASATKINA: Greatest strength? The fighting spirit, I think. Yeah, because even when I'm not playing really good, like, I don't feel forehand or backhand, I'm still trying to reach every ball and fight for every point. So I think this is like coming from childhood.

Q. Just with your positive results in the last few weeks, I'm wondering, heading into February, did you tell yourself that I can actually be in a final of a premier mandatory or things like that? Or did you actually feel it's happening sooner than expected?
DARIA KASATKINA: Good question. Actually, you don't have to expect these things, because you never know when it's going to happen. You can be prepared, like, 100% for the one tournament, and you can lose first round because opponent was unbelievable.

And then you can be a little bit injured before another tournament, you think you're going to lose first round to maybe retired, and then you just go match by match, and you're already in and you're getting confidence.

So I was not trying to put something like this on my shoulders. I was just playing, practicing, and it comes, you know. You have to give time to yourself.

Q. How do you reset so quickly? She had a couple of double faults, and then you turned right around and took the next point.
DARIA KASATKINA: Because I knew that if there is a chance, I have to take it immediately. Because on the top level, you can get few chances per set or per match. And if you don't use it, you can lose the match after.

So the one really important thing which I realized, that you have to see the chances and use them, for sure.

Q. If you do play Naomi in the final, what do you think this match would mean that two 20-year-olds are playing a big final like that?
DARIA KASATKINA: That we are coming (smiling). Very soon.

Q. Obviously Elena won the title here last year. I know you have a connection with her a little bit. Wonder if she's kind of given you any advice throughout the week as you've gotten deeper and deeper?
DARIA KASATKINA: Actually, I didn't see her much this week. Yeah, sometimes we're talking. By the way, she just wrote me on Instagram. She congrats me.

Yeah, sometimes she's giving me some advices. We are talking but, you know, like, in a funny way. Yeah, that's fun, actually.

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