Tennis: Kasatkina beats hobbling Jabeur in Kremlin Cup final crying game

Kasatkina holds her trophy after defeating Ons Jabeur of Tunisia. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - In a match which ended with both players on their knees after the final point, sixth seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia beat Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur in a tough three-setter to win the Kremlin Cup on Saturday (Oct 20).

"She was crying because she won. I was crying because I was cramping," tweeted Jabeur.

The 21-year-old Kasatkina had to battle back from a set down to win 2-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 in two hours two minutes.

After clinching the match, Kasatkina fell to the court and wept for joy. Then, still wiping her face, she walked round the net as Jabeur struggled to her feet. The two hugged before the Russian helped the limping Tunisian from the court.

"It was very tough and I saw you gave everything today and that's what sport is all about," Kasatkina told Jabeur at the trophy presentation.

"I really appreciate I had this match with you today. I'm sure that it's not the last final for you."

"I think it was a good week for you," she said.

Jabeur, the first Tunisian to play in a WTA final, said she intended to be back.

"I really enjoyed playing here this week," the 101st-ranked Tunisian said.

"This is the first WTA premier final for me. Hopefully I will do more here next year."

Kasatkina became the sixth Russian to win the Moscow event.

"I remember 10 years ago when I was a kid I came here and was dreaming that (some day) I would stand on this central court holding the trophy aloft," Kasatkina said. "And now here I am. The dream came true."

The opponents traded breaks at the start then held their serves until the sixth game when Kasatkina suddenly lost her nerve allowing Jabeur to break twice again to take the opening set in 23 minutes.

In the second set tiebreak Kasatkina, ranked 14th in the world, was slightly more accurate to level the match at one set all after one hour 25 minutes on court.

In the deciding set Jabeur, who was playing her eighth match in eight days, began to wilt.

As the set wore on she suffered cramping in her leg and was almost unable to run, allowing Kasatkina to produce the deciding break in the 10th game to wrap up the victory.

In the ATP section, French left-hander Adrian Mannarino claimed a place in the final with a close straight-sets win over the Italian veteran Andreas Seppi 7-5, 7-5.

"It's very complicated to play against Andreas," said Mannarino, who levelled his head-to-head record with Seppi at four all.

"We have the same pace. When I'm playing well he plays well, when I'm not good he's not as well.

"That was a tactical game and just a couple of points at the end made the difference. And I think I was a bit more lucky today."

In the final, Mannarino will face third-seeded Russian wildcard Karen Khachanov, who saw off second-seeded compatriot Daniil Medvedev 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3.

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