As every fan of tennis knows, 2017 has been all about the veterans rolling back the years. Roger Federer has stormed to victory in Melbourne, Indian Wells and Miami, and Rafael Nadal has been hot on his heels, already reaching three finals this year. Serena Williams was at her very best on her way to winning the Australian Open, while her older sister Venus has played some inspired tennis in a number of tournaments this year. We also saw Elena Vesnina take the biggest title of her career at Indian Wells, winning an over-30s final against compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova. In Charleston, the pendulum swung in the polar opposite direction.
Earlier today in Charleston, two of the sport’s brightest future stars, Jelena Ostapenko and Daria Kasatkina, met in the final with a first WTA title on line for both. This was the first all-teenage WTA final since Petra Kvitova beat Yanina Wickmayer in Linz in 2009, the gap between the two matches showing just how much women’s tennis has moved away from the years of Martina Hingis and Maria Sharapova winning Grand Slams while in their mid-teens.
In the end, it was Kasatkina who tasted WTA title glory for the first time, playing a canny game of forcing Ostapenko to make her shots, something she couldn’t do on the day. Kasatkina was overwhelmed with her victory and delivered a genuinely heartwarming victory speech. The same cannot be said for the Latvian, who lived up to her reputation of not being the most pleasant player on the tour. She was quickly condemned for not congratulating Kasatkina by the Russian’s compatriot and former doubles partner Elena Vesnina.
Both players started 2017 rather slowly, compared to their form in 2016, but hopefully this week will be a springboard for them to push on and make further gains as the season continues. Kasatkina, in particular, will be one to watch as the red clay season begins in the coming weeks.