Mladenovic, Vesnina complete the semifinal field in Indian Wells

Wilson Blade 9

After Thursday’s quarterfinal action, seed No.28 Kristina Mladenovic and seed No.14 Elena Vesnina both reached their first Premier Mandatory semifinals and joined Svetlana Kuznetsova and Karolina Pliskova in the final four of the 2017 BNP Paribas Open.

France’s Mladenovic ensured a Top 20 singles ranking for the first time by beating the 2011 Indian Wells champion Caroline Wozniacki 3-6 7-6(4) 6-2, who’s been in excellent form with two recent finals in Doha and Dubai. Following a slow start, which saw Mladenovic 1-5 down, the 23-year-old summoned her more powerful game and after edging the second set in a tiebreak, she raced away with the third set as Wozniacki had problems with her ankle. Mladenovic, who won her maiden WTA title in St. Petersburg earlier this year, beat Wozniacki for the first time in their four meetings.

Completing the final four was Russia’s Vesnina, who defeated Venus Williams 6-2 4-6 6-3 for the fourth time in their six encounters. The American made a sluggish start to the match, piling up errors with her serve not functioning. After a straightforward loss of the first set, Venus energized her game with great movement and powerful winners from all over the place. This revival confused Vesnina and made her loose rhythm, resulting in the match being leveled at one set apiece. In the decider, Williams survived three match points on her serve, as Vesnina committed three straight errors in the eighth game that lasted more than nine minutes and featured six deuces. In the ninth game of the set, which turned out to be the last game of the match, Vesnina saved as many as six break points before recording the victory.

Mladenovic and Vesnina have faced each other twice so far and the Russian leads their head-to-head record 2-0, but their last encounter was back in early 2015. (photos: Jimmie48)



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