With 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.