Indian Wells crown surreal for Osaka

Indian Wells: Venus Williams breezes past Carla Suarez Navarro to set up semi-final against Daria Kasatkina

Daria Kasatkina upset Venus Williams 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a almost three-hour baseline struggle to reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night.

Japan's Osaka, ranked a lowly 44th in the world, thrashed Romania's below par world number one Halep 6-3, 6-4 in just 64 minutes.

American tennis star Venus Williams suffered a major blow as she bowed out of the Indian Wells Masters after going down against Daria Kasatkina of Russian Federation in a three-set thriller of semi-final clash here on Saturday.

"In the beginning of the year, I just wanted to play every match really well", she said. "Too many emotions and you can not explain everything".

After Kasatkina's three-set thriller with Williams, 2017 Indian Wells champion Elena Vesnina congratulated her compatriot.

'I just fought and that's maybe why I won because I refuse to lose, Halep said.

"But she's playing really well".

'I calmed myself down a little bit more, and I just was more focused on what I have to do, and not thinking that much about the wind and what is going on on court. But will it be the impressive retrieving skills of Kasatkina or the power of Osaka that triumphs? Kasatkina won on her second match point when Williams netted a backhand.

"We are same age, first of all", Kasatkina said.

"I'm really grateful about that and I'm also really happy that they were cheering for me", she said.

It was their second showdown of the season - the first being a smooth straight-sets win for Halep in the Australian Open fourth round in January.

The Williams-Kasatkina semi is a rematch of their rain-delayed third-round meeting at Wimbledon in 2016.

Osaka beat the current No. 1 player on the WTA Tour, 26-year-old Simona Halep, by hitting harder and smarter and dispatching the sulking Romanian in two quick sets.

"I don't really know what's going on right now".

Halep, who had reached the semi-finals in all four of her tournaments in 2018, was trying to repeat her Indian Wells success of three years ago when she beat Jelena Jankovic to lift the trophy.

The 32nd seed overcame 18th seeded home player Sam Querrey 7-5, 2-6, 6-3. Interestingly, this was the Japanese's first singles title of any kind, and she has not triumphed on the ITF level either.

The turning point came in the third set as Williams was left breathing heavily on her chair after holding serve in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead.

Meanwhile, Kasatkina rolled over her third top-10 player in a row to reach her first Indian Wells final.

Consecutive service holds followed, though it was Osaka who faced more troubles, especially with Kasatkina earning another break point in the seventh game.

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