Thursday’s Set Points, WTA Indian Wells Day 9: All in for a Mladenovic v Vesnina semi-final

Set PointsWith a first ever win over Caroline Wozniacki, Kristina Mladenovic came from a set down to book her place in the semi-finals of Indian Wells for the first time with a 3-6 7-6(4) 6-2 victory on another baking day in the desert.

Wozniacki had played an excellent opening set, winning the majority of big points and saving nine out of ten break points faced. The Dane’s forehand held up really well and she was playing aggressively which was so refreshing to see.

Mladenovic improved in the second set. Her mix of variety is just delightful to watch and it was all on display in this match. Mladenovic served for the second set at *5-3 but couldn’t get the job done, throwing in two nervy double faults. The set went to the tiebreak where Mladenovic’s serve was the difference including a serve and volley at *4-3 that surprised Wozniacki.

This was a really entertaining match and I enjoyed the clash of styles. Mladenovic saved an early break point in a game where she produced a couple of tremendous points, constructed so thoughtfully – the one that springs to mind was where she executing her backhand slice with such clarity of mind before closing with a superb volley. Wozniacki took a medical time-out at 2-1 for a foot/ankle injury.

Mladenovic continued to grow in confidence, dominating Wozniacki’s return by running around the backhand and getting the first break of the set. After an incredible point where Wozniacki had retrieved every ball under the sun, the Dane carved open an opportunity at 30-30 on Mladenovic’s serve to break straight back but she netted a forehand and chucked her racquet. From then on, Wozniacki never recovered and was notably subdued. .Mladenovic powered through the final four games and served out the match with confidence.

I was so impressed with Mladenovic in this match who scored her fourth top 20 win of the year. I think this was arguably her best win of the year considering the calibre of the match and she had never beaten Wozniacki before. I wrote in my preview that I was unsure if she had the nerve to win this match but she showed her growing maturity to deservedly take her place in the semi-final line-up. Her game is dynamite to watch when she’s feeling it and she has spoken in depth in press about going alone without a coach and it really seems to be paying off. Great job, Kiki!

In a battle of first-time Premier Mandatory semi-finalists, Mladenovic will play Elena Vesnina after the Russian player backed up her win over Angelique Kerber with a 6-2 4-6 6-3 victory over Venus Williams. This has been a superb week for Vesnina who had never previously made it past the third round in Indian Wells in nine attempts.

Loved this in press from Elena.

Friday night, the semi-finals are up. Firstly, a preview for an all-top ten clash between Karolina Pliskova and Svetlana Kuznetsova

The second semi-final will be contested between Kristina Mladenovic and Elena Vesnina – all in for this one. There been many debates about the quality on the WTA tour right now but I personally think this unlikely semi-final showcases the depth. Both are enjoying great years and both will be bidding for their biggest ever final so there’s a lot on the line. As two of the best doubles players on the tour, they both like to come forward and it should be a fun one.

As to a winner, eeek it’s another tricky one. I was rather sold on Mladenovic’s performance against Wozniacki and the way she managed her game. Vesnina has won their two previous matches and is playing so well also so not for the first time this week, i’m on the fence. Mladenovic just?

Sorry I haven’t got time to write a preview but i’ll be travelling tonight… who you got?

 

In the doubles, the top two seeds were both beaten in the semi-finals paving the way for a final between Chan Yung-Jan and Martina Hingis against Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova.

Enjoyed all the features with Sloane Stephens this week on the Tennis Channel – here’s an interview with Bethanie Mattek-Sands where she talks about her partnership with Lucie.

Jelena Ostapenko taking in a spot of golf!

And finally the players are already arriving in Miami for the next Premier Mandatory that starts next week, main draw beginning on Tuesday.

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18 thoughts on “Thursday’s Set Points, WTA Indian Wells Day 9: All in for a Mladenovic v Vesnina semi-final

  1. In terms of the debate regarding the quality of the WTA Tour, I feel that it is the weakest era I can remember. I think that people are misunderstanding the meaning of depth which is why more aren’t feeling this way.

    My main argument would be that the concept of no match being a given on the WTA & ATP tours are for completely different reasons. On the WTA tour this is more because you don’t know which player is going to put in an erratic performance, whereas on the ATP tour it is that nobody has any major weaknesses now.

    Examples to show the level of depth can be seen at the 2017 AO – Serena had a tricky draw & still won without dropping a set, but her (2nd half) 2012 & 2013 form would have crushed her 2017 form. In the men’s tournament, players playing at a level which would most likely seen them reach the QFs at majors a few years ago could only make the 3R.

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    • Yeah OK I get the message, you don’t like the WTA tour right now 😂

      In my time of watching WTA tennis, I don’t think the WTA is at its strongest right now but also, in my opinion, it isn’t the weakest. Trying to take away from Mladenovic and Vesnina’s achievements this week by implying that it’s a weak era would be very unfair because they have both played superb tennis and earnt their places in the SFs, not by taking advantage of openings in the draw, but creating them themselves. Personally, i’ve always enjoyed the unpredictability of the WTA and it’s one of the reasons i’ve always tended to enjoy it more than ATP and will continue to champion it.

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      • I am keeping my hopes up that it will get better for me! 😛

        Just to clarify I was not taking away from their achievements – I have been very impressed with their performances this tournament, particularly Vesnina who I really thought would plummet down the rankings this year. My comments were more in relation to the WTA tour as a whole rather than this tournament itself.

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      • Agreed on Vesnina, I too thought she would struggle to keep up her good form this year but all respect to her, she’s doing great.

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    • Glad you’re hopeful. I tend to see these periods more as cycles. IMO, the lack thereof of a ‘dominant’ player(s) or an individual, maybe two(usually power hitters) does not make the WTA as a whole, weak. I think iWells has been a more competitive tournament compared to Doha and Dubai. The match-ups have been good right from the onset through to Pliskova and Garbine’s 7-5, 7-5 encounter. I tend to see them as the future of things to come.

      Petra is injured, Sharapova is suspended, Azarenka is procreating, Serena is injured, Halep is recovering, and so on. Aga, who you would have thought could be shining now, isn’t on form. It is what it is, and it’s been so for about a year and a half. Look at some of the players who have gained in ascendancy during this period, Kerber, Svitolina, Davis, Woz, Vesnina and they don’t have outright weapons. Hard working counter punchers of sorts. And what do you know, the higher you go, the more rewarding the rankings get and the better your tournament opportunities can be. Bring in that Serena you speak of from circa 2012-13(which I admire greatly) and she would likely beat them all. But in a sense, that Serena is an ‘oddity’, and that performance will also likely overshadow the work and improvements these women are putting in complicating the ‘strength’ or ‘depth’ debate on tour.

      Anyway, nothing against men or women(just saying), but the basic differences between both sexes, physiology wise to be precise, will always make the WTA different from the ATP. A lot of coaches seem to point to the differences in temperaments(emotional) on the tours. What I would like to see now is for Svetlana to produce a sublime performance with a straight sets win over Pliskova and then cap it off with an excellent win over Mladenovic in the final. 😛 Is that too much to ask for, tennis gods!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m neutral regarding Mladenovic v Vesnina but I am really glad that one of these two likeable players ( I enjoy watching both play ) is going to make it to the final of this big tournament. One of the reasons why I like women’s tennis is that it is often entertaining and unpredictable and is not boring. It could be close and I’m going with Mladenovic to win as she is full of confidence and has the momentum with her. I’ll be cheering for the winner of this match when they play in the final.

    Maybe Jelena Ostapenko should switch to golf as she seems happier playing it and I’ve seen her smile more in the video on here than in all of her tennis matches that I have watched !

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    • Personally, i’d love to see Vesnina go all the way. Mladenovic-Vesnina is unlikely to be a match that will dtaw headlines or crowds, but I think it could be a really engaging contest. I’ve gone for Mladenovic but it really could go either way and there have been so many close matches this week. Ostapenko looked good on the golf course!

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  3. I disagree that this is a weak period in time for the wta. Look at the women leading the Road to Singapore and what they’re doing this year.

    I’m backing Vesnina to win. I think she had a bit more of an all round game than Kiki, who basically just has a stunning forehand and great net game.

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    • Just?! I think Vesnina has a simpler all-round game in that less can go wrong but Mladenovic has more to her game. Her backhand is improving and she can slice it effectively as well. She used the S&V against Woz and some beautiful drop shots too. Granted, she hasn’t always had the gameplan to go with the variety but I think she’s getting there. I could see this match-up going either way and to be honest, i’d love to see Elena reach the final. The edge for me though is with Mladenovic.

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  4. I prefer not having any dominate players. From one week to the next you have no idea who will win. Players outside the top 100 can make a big run in a tournament. If you know who is going to win, why watch.

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  5. I dont think WTA is at its weakest right now. Actually in the past, I would say up until the Williams sisters became number 1 and number 2, before that WTA used to be something where no one was giving any competition to the top 3-4 players, not to take anything away from her but I believe when Hingis won her first few grand slams that was a very weak period there really werent any good players around to give her any competition.

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    • Agreed!

      Players in the top ten now like Svitolina and Pliskova are far more talented than the likes of Safina, Jankovic or Wozniacki (when she was #1) for me.
      Then you had the Grafton years where there were barely half a dozen great players who could challenge her…

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    • I agree. The WTA is going through a small dip at the top right now because Petra, Maria and Vika are out (for diffferent reasons of course) and Serena’s struggling with injuries, but for me the important thing to consider is the general trend. I can remember when Wimbledon was pretty much routine for the top players and it was rare that there was an upset; that certainly isn’t the case now.

      As I’ve said before I’m convinced that there are more very good players (as opposed to truly great ones) in the WTA now than there have ever been before, and a player who is ranked, say, 20th, 50th, 100th or 200th now would easily beat a player at the same rankings in any previous era.

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  6. I agree that Vesnina’s game is more straight forward. I do think Mladenovic has more power to her serve and forehand. Vesnina’s definitely has the edge in experience and court craft (her doubles expertise might be the difference hear). But I think Mladenovic is having a breakthrough – lets see if she can keep it up.

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  7. Predicted the outcomes against Mootennis for certain matches in the past weeks was the best choice. Mladenovic is like a Yoyo. She is in form right now. Can she keep it up? I have no ideas. Similarly, Vesina will have the same issues. This match I will go will Vesina. She has the games to take down Mladenovic if she is not mentally tired……she was tired during the doubles.

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