Kasatkina beats Fernandez to seal Eastbourne title

Daria Kasatkina saw off a spirited performance by Leylah Fernandez to win the Eastbourne International in straight sets.

The Russian sixth seed triumphed 6-3 6-4 as she secured her seventh WTA title in one hour 50 minutes at Devonshire Park.

Kasatkina, who lost to American Madison Keys in last year’s final, took control of the first set and closed out the match despite a brief fightback from the Canadian in the second set.

"It's been a year but it feels like only a few days since the final last time," Kasatkina, 27, said.

"It was a tough battle today. It's been a long road to the title but I am really proud."

Fernandez’s serve was broken in the first game after she fluffed a sliced drop shot and Kasatkina backed it up with a hold of serve.

The Canadian eventually found some rhythm and forced three break points in a hard-fought fifth game which lasted just over 20 minutes, including a stoppage while a member of the crowd received medical treatment.

After 11 deuces, though, Kasatkina secured a vital hold and from that point she had the momentum for the remainder of the first set, clinching it with a second break in the ninth game after Fernandez double-faulted.

Kasatkina, who knocked out Emma Raducanu in the quarter-finals, initially showed no let-up in the second set as she advanced into a 3-0 lead.

But Fernandez dug deep and managed to get back on serve with a crucial break and hauled it back to 3-3 before breaking her opponent for a second time in the set, this time Kasatkina double-faulting at the key moment.

When Fernandez went 4-3 up with a second break the match looked destined for a third set, but Kasatkina responded to the setback by immediately breaking back.

The wind was taken out of Fernandez’s sails and Kasatkina ruthlessly closed out the contest, with victory secured when the 21-year-old overhit a forehand return.

Kasatkina ends losing streak in finals

Kasatkina has struggled in finals over the last few years.

She lost her past five WTA finals, with three of those defeats coming in 2024, and has not won a tour title since 2022.

There must have been more than a few nerves when Fernandez’s more flamboyant style of play clicked and seemed to have swung the second set her way.

So the manner in which Kasatkina held her nerve in a final will have pleased her, especially on the eve of Wimbledon where she has never gone beyond the quarter-finals.

Fernandez, meanwhile, showed flashes of quality when she came to the net but too often unforced errors during rallies from the baseline proved her undoing.

"It's a beautiful tournament at Eastbourne and I enjoyed my time here. Hopefully we have many more of these finals," Fernandez said.

"My team have pushed me the past couple of months and the hard work is paying off so now we have to keep going, working and never give up."