Elena Vesnina of Russia reacts during the women's semifinal BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Friday in Indian Wells. -AFP
Vesnina powered past France's Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-4, continuing a sparkling campaign that has seen her shock German's soon-to-be world number one Angelique Kerber in the fourth round and seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in the quarter-finals.
On other match, Svetlana Kuznetsova toppled world number three Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/2) on Friday to book an all-Russian Indian Wells final against Elena Vesnina.
It's a sharp turnaround from Vesnina's first-round ouster in qualifying here last year, and marks her first trip to a final of one of the WTA's elite Premier Mandatory events. World number eight Kuznetsova is back in the Indian Wells final for the first time since back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2008.
She withstood 10 aces from Pliskova, who has already won titles at Brisbane and Doha this year. "I tried my best to fight every point," said the 31-year-old Kuznetsova, owner of two Grand slam singles titles who enjoyed a resurgence in 2016, winning two titles as she returned to the top 10 in the world for the first time since 2010.
"Karolina is one of the best players this year." After falling behind 5-3, the Czech made Kuznetsova work to close out the opening set, saving a set point in the ninth game and four more in the tiebreaker after Kuznetsova seized a 6-2 lead in the decider. A double fault left Kuznetsova with one more chance at 6-5, and she grabbed it with a forehand passing shot.
-AFP, Indian Wells
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