It might not be a star-studded clash in the WTA Indian Wells final with none of the top 4 seeds making it there but Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Vesnina‘s places in the final are much deserved with both beating one of the stars to make it to this stage.
Vesnina route to the final:
- R2: Shelby Rogers 6-4 7-5
- R3: Timea Babos 6-4 1-6 6-4
- R4: Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-3
- QF: Venus Williams 6-2 4-6 6-3
- SF: Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-4
Most impressive of Vesnina’s run is definitely the ease in which she defeated Angelique Kerber in round four. Even though the German, who will move back to No.1 after this tournament, is a far cry from the form of her outstanding 2016 it is still a major feat to defeat a top player like that with such ease. Venus had fought through a number of tough matches to make the quarter finals but that came to an end thanks to Vesnina. Vesnina rushed into an early lead in the semi final with Mladenovic with her aggressive game working well against the Frenchwoman.
“I was feeling very comfortable in the court with my shots. Every time when I had kind of the opportunity to move her around, I was using that every time. I was not trying to play safe on some key moments.” she said. This is Vesnina’s biggest singles final to date but as a star doubles player she is often used to the big occasion already and will help with her belief. “I was serving a lot of times for the match in doubles, for the finals, Grand Slam finals, championship finals, Olympic Games finals. So I kind of had this kind of pressure.”
Kuznetsova’s route to the final:
- R2: Johanna Larson 7-6(3) 64
- R3: Roberta Vinci 6-2 2-6 6-1
- R4: Caroline Garcia 6-1 6-4
- QF: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 6-2
- SF: Karolina Pliskova 7-6(5) 7-6(2)
It seemed like this tournament was set up to crown Karolina Pliskova and move her closer to a potential No.1 spot in the WTA Tour rankings but Kuznetsova had other ideas, holding her nerve in two tie breaks to defeat the Czech. The first set really should have been over before then with Kuznetsova holding a *3-0 lead and also failing to convert a set point at 5-3. After not playing since St Petersburg, this kind of run for Kuznetsova was unexpected but it has been a matter of progression through the tournament for her. “First match, I had so many ups and downs. Second one, third one better. Every match, getting better. Here we are in the finals. I think it’s great.” she said.
It is a difficult to pick a winner for this one but conditions are favourable to Kuznetsova, who is now a three time finalist at the event. “She obviously liked playing here with the balls flying and jumping quite high. She’s using her forehand — like, powerful forehand topspin here a lot. Brings a lot of points.” Vesnina said of Kuznetsova. They’ve met twice before, going 1-1 but the only hard court meeting was played 8 years ago in Dubai.
Prediction – Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets