APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

‘Proud’ Kasatkina is a woman on a mission

A while ago, Daria Kasatkina, and her girlfriend Natalia Zabiiako, took it upon themselves to give the world a behind-the-scenes look at life on the professional tennis circuit.

Through their YouTube channel, ‘What the Vlog’, they began documenting every stop they make on tour, sharing a unique insight into what it’s really like playing tennis for a living.

The channel has reached over 45,000 subscribers so far and has developed a cult following eager to get an unfiltered view of the WTA tour.

For Kasatkina, the vlogs are a way to humanise tennis players to the public, and make fans acknowledge there is more to them than their ability to hit a tennis ball over a net.

“We want to make women’s tennis more popular than men’s. It’s a long way to that but I think it’s nice to show the people, not only women’s tennis, but in general how the tennis players they actually live,” the 10th-seeded Kasatkina said on Sunday after booking her spot in the Mutua Madrid Open fourth round with a straight-sets victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

“Okay, the top players have got this luxury style of living, but it’s not just that. There’s also a lot of struggle, there are some other parts which are not covered.

“I think, first of all, it’s interesting and it’s very important to show how it actually is so the people when they see us on court they understand a little bit more what we are going through.”

Kasatkina feels it’s easy to forget that athletes are human when you see them excelling on court and she says there’s always a hidden story behind every personality.

“My coach once said that behind one not good forehand, there is something else. There is always something else. So to give people the understanding of the situation in general is very important,” added the 26-year-old.

“I understand when you see someone only inside this box, only on the court, you see just an athlete. You see the athlete who runs and hits the ball. But I think it’s also nice to show that there is a personality inside, that we’re all different and we’re not only tennis players, we’re also something else.”

Kasatkina has been at her battling best this week in Madrid, crawling her way back from a 5-7, 2-5 deficit in her opening match against Cristina Bucsa, before recovering from a break down in each set in her clash with Pavlyuchenkova to come through 7-6(5), 7-5.

Her reward is a last-16 showdown with Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva.

“The desire to win drives you always. Especially that first match was really interesting,” said Kasatkina.

“The level now is so high that there’s no easy matches, never, especially in events like this. I’m really happy with the effort I’m doing, with the way of playing. For me it’s not easy to go this offensive style of play, but I’m really trying to develop it and I’m really proud of myself.”

Indeed, Kasatkina has been trying to adopt a more attacking style of play this season and it’s paying off. She has reached three WTA 500 finals in 2024 – in Adelaide, Abu Dhabi and Charleston – and since she returned to the top 10 in the summer of 2022, she has maintained her position among the game’s elite, never dropping outside the top 20.

“This is the thing which I’m really proud of myself because once I was top 10 (in the 2018) and then I dropped tragically in the rankings the next year,” she reflects.

“It means that I’m developing as a player also that I’m able to keep this level and showing my, more or less, the best every single week.”

When she takes on Putintseva on Monday, Kasatkina will be looking to reach the Madrid quarter-finals for the first time since 2018, when she fell in the last-eight stage to eventual champion Petra Kvitova.