BNP Paribas Open WTA 2017 Semifinal Preview: Kristina Mladenovic vs Elena Vesnina

Kristina Mladenovic and Elena Vesnina meet in the BNP Paribas Open semifinal in their biggest matches of their careers. Both players are at the Premier Mandatory semifinal stage for their first time ever, providing an intriguing match up.

(28) Kristina Mladenovic (No.26) vs (14) Elena Vesnina (No.15)

Elena Vesnina is enjoying her best ever result in Indian Wells. The Russian started her week off with a fine win over Shelby Rogers, then overcame dizziness to beat Timea Babos in three sets. In the fourth round, Vesnina took down soon to be and former World No.1 Angelique Kerber for the best win of her career. She took on another former No.1 in the  in the form of Venus Williams in the quarterfinals. Vesnina quickly took the first set 6-2, taking advantage of Williams’ sluggish serves. However the latter came back stronger in the second, claiming it 6-4.

When she won the second set, I was, like, I saw previous matches that she was down with match point with a set point, and I was like, ‘Uh-oh, it’s coming back again. I’m going to be another victim of Venus. I don’t want. I want to win this. I want this match. – Elena Vesnina

The deciding set was a nervous one, but Vesnina calmed herself down and saved five(?) break points in the last game to close out the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

Another surprise semifinalist but not-so-surprising is Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic. Mladenovic has been enjoying a great season, first winning the Premier tier title in St.Petersburg, then making the final in Acapulco. In Indian Wells here, she was equally impressive, not losing a single set coming into the quarterfinals, and even upsetting 2015 champion Simona Halep along the way. In the quarterfinals, Mladenovic beat World No.14 Caroline Wozniacki for the first time after three previous meetings. It was a splendid showcase of a variety and if she is to show that against Vesnina, the Russian will have a tough time.

Head to head: Vesnina leads the match up 2-0. Their most recent encounter was at the 2015 ASB Classic, where Vesnina won in straights.

Thoughts: It’s so difficult to decide. Mladenovic is on fire, while Vesnina has garnered great wins over Kerber and Williams in the last two rounds. I’m siding with Mladenovic for this one though – her comeback and variety impressed me greatly in the match against Wozniacki, but if Vesnina plays like the way she played against Venus, the match’s going to be an exciting one.

Prediction: Mladenovic to beat Vesnina in three


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