Vesnina, Kuznetsova set up all-Russian Indian Wells final

At the age of 30, Elena Vesnina made her biggest singles final by beating Kristina Mladenovic in the BNP Paribas Open semis, while Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Karolina Pliskova and reached the title match at the tournament for the third time, but the first time in nine years.

The 14th-seeded Vesnina raced to a 5-0 lead in the first set and 5-1 lead in the second set, and even though in both sets she allowed the 28th-seeded Mladenovic to win three games in a row to decrease the deficits, in the end the Russian closed out the victory on her serve. Final score: 6-3 6-4.

In the second semifinal, the eighth-seeded Kuznetsova defeated the third-seeded Pliskova in a match in which only a point or two in each tiebreak set played the difference.

Kuznetsova opened with a 3-0 double-break lead, but Pliskova built a comeback and as the set was in its closing stage the Czech even saved a set point in the ninth game and four more in the tiebreaker before Kuznetsova finally won the set with a forehand passing shot.

The second set was contested even more closely, as players exchanged breaks early on and held serves all the way to the tiebreak, in which Pliskova underperformed for the first time in the match, allowing Kuznetsova to upset her 7-6(5) 7-6(2). 

Despite their long careers, Vesnina and Kuznetsova have faced each other just twice and their head-to-head record is 1-1. Their last encounter was on the clay of Estoril in 2014 and Kuznetsova won it, while Vesnina won their 2009 meeting in Dubai. (photos: Jimmie48)

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