Kaia Kanepi (WTA 418) won her fourth-round match against 38th-ranked Daria Kasatkina at the U.S. Open on Monday 6-4, 6-4 after she had previously been absent from most major tournaments for two seasons in a row. She is entering the U.S. Open’s quarterfinals as the lowest-ranked player in the history of the tournament.
Kanepi, who initially made a nervous impression, lost the opening game 0:2, but quickly recovered and won the following three games in a row, finishing the first set with a 6:4 lead. After a short comeback by Kasatkina and a few missed opportunities at 4:2, Kanepi won the second set.
The match lasted an hour and a half.
After a series of injuries and an absence from the professional tennis tour of most of the past two seasons, Kanepi is only ranked 418th, which makes her the lowest-ranking player ever to advance to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows.
Kanepi is only the second player to achieve this as a qualifier, the first one being Barbara Gerken in 1981, although five women did so while unranked entirely. She could get into the tournament thanks to the WTA’s special ranking rule, which specifies that a player who is sidelined with a long-term injury but is able to return can use their ranking at the time of the start of their absence.
She needed to win three matches in the qualifying rounds just to get a spot in the main draw.
This year’s U.S. Open is Kanepi’s first Grand Slam tournament since 2015. In that year she lost the first rounds at the Australian Open, the French Open, and at Wimbledon as well as the second round of the U.S. Open.
Kanepi’s former trainer, Silver Karjus, told ETV before the match that she had an advantage over Kasatkina, as the latter had never played a major quarterfinal, while Kanepi had experience, this being her sixth.
Kanepi said she was very proud to have made it that far, and to be back and able to play the important matches again. “I think it says I don’t like to give up.”
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Editor: Dario Cavegn