Elena Vesnina faces Svetlana Kuznetsova at final in Indians Wells
20 March 2017, 12:45 | Simon Arnold
United States Venus Williams | AP
Elena Vesnina defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-4 to win the BNP Paribas Open in an all-Russian final on Sunday.
The Russian, 31, put in a superb display to beat third seed Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (7/5) 7-6 (7/2), having last made the showpiece in Indian Wells in 2008.
The Swiss advanced to his first final four at Indian Wells, where he will meet 21st seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who was also extended to a third-set decider in his 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (4) win over Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. In the second set, Vesnina jumped out to a 5-1 lead before again losing three games in a row.
The win marked the biggest title of Vesnina's career and she collapsed to the court with a mixture of ecstasy and exhaustion at the end.
Vesnina had stunned World No. 2 Angelique Kerber in the Round of 16 before upsetting Venus Williams in a three-set quarterfinal thriller.
Stan Wawrinka raised his game on the big points and dominated the climactic third-set tiebreaker to beat Dominic Thiem 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (2) Thursday and reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. When Vesnina broke at love, Kuznetsova came right back with an athletic dig down the line breaking back for 3-1. "I felt like she was playing very fast, very aggressive. I'm just so, so happy".
The physical and emotional strain of the draining first set took a toll on Vesnina in the second.
"We've been teammates since we were 12", said Kuznetsova about Vesnina.
Vesnina had 46 winners and 49 unforced errors.
"Everything was just so attractive here", Vesnina said.
And while Mladenovic was an easier draw than Williams was the night before, the confidence Vesnina flashed in the spotlight suggests she could push Kuznetsova to three sets with a trophy on the line. It's tough to play the whole match like this, so I tried to play steady.
As far as recent results go, Kuznetsova has been slightly more efficient in Indian Wells. "The matches I have been winning this year, especially this tournament, I probably wouldn't have been winning year and a half, two years ago".
Kuznetsova finally sealed the set with the help of a favourable net cord bounce after an hour and 11 minutes.
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