Elena Vesnina faces Svetlana Kuznetsova at final in Indians Wells

By The Sports Xchange   |   March 18, 2017 at 8:14 AM
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Russia's Elena Vesnina moved into the finals at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., on Friday, defeating France's Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-4.

The 2016 Wimbledon semifinalist will face fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, who pulled out a hard-fought 7-6(5), 7-6(2) win over third-seed Karolina Pliskova.

"We've been teammates since we were 12," said Kuznetsova about Vesnina. "It's great that it's a Russian final. I'm really happy for (Vesnina). I am looking forward to having a great game and may the best win."

They each have one victory in the head-to-head series, but they last met almost three years ago.

The 15th seed, Vesnina's surprising march to the finals included upset wins over No. 2 Angelique Kerber followed by a stunning three-set quarterfinal victory over American Venus Williams.

Vesnina took control early with a 5-0 lead in the first set. Mladenovic tried to get back into the match but she dropped two consecutive service games to begin the second set. Mladenovic later began pushing Vesnina, saving one match point while serving down 5-2. Vesnina closed out the one-hour, 42-minute match three games later.

"It got tight at the end because Kristina started to play so free," said Vesnina. "She started to put a lot of pressure on me. It's tough to play the whole match like this, so I tried to play steady. I tried to focus point by point."

Kuznetsova, the No. 8 seed, outlasted Pliskova in a 1-hour, 55-minute battle to earn a spot in her 40th career final and third in Indian Wells. She finished runner-up in back-to-back finals in 2007 and 2008.

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