Vesnina beats Kuznetsova to win Indian Wells WTA title

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark returns a shot to Kristina Mladenovic of France at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Thursday

Kuznetsova, the No. 8 seed, outlasted Pliskova in a 1-hour, 55-minute battle to earn a spot in her 40th career final and third in Indian Wells. While the former recorded a thrilling 3-6 7-6 (7/4) 6-2 win over Caroline Wozniacki, Vesnina put up a shock upset, knocking out the veteran Venus Williams 6-2 4-6 6-3. She was one point away from extending the lead when Pliskova's game started to click together and the Czech began to mount her comeback, saving set point to grab both breaks back.

Williams, who this week survived match points against Jelena Jankovic and was down a break in the third against Peng Shuai, fought off three match points in the eighth game and had six chances to bring it back on serve in the next before the 14th-seeded Russian finally held to finish a gutsy 6-2 4-6 6-3 win.

"When I was up 3-0 in the first set, she was missing some easy shots".

Jack Sock defeated Kei Nishikori 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 for the biggest singles victory of his career in the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals on Friday. Kuznetsova has the better athleticism out of the two players and has more firepower in her shots.

Sock improved to 15-2 this year and set up a semifinal against Roger Federer, who advanced via walkover when Nick Kyrgios withdrew with what the Australian suspected was food poisoning.

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"I had some issues", said the American, who played Thursday with one thigh bandaged, but without the right arm bandage she sported in previous rounds.

Vesnina had 46 winners and 49 unforced errors. "It's great to know that I can try to play through what I'm going through and be very competitive".

Kuznetsova is now looking forward to facing her compatriot in Sunday's showpiece, admitting that she hopes the best player on the day emerges victorious.

The physical and emotional strain of the draining first set took a toll on Vesnina in the second. However, Vesnina's two title triumphs came in 2013 at the global tier event in Hobart against Mona Barthel, and a Premier-level title on the grass courts of Eastbourne in 2013, dispatching Jamie Hampton. I think in general we both played at a high level, and the match came down to only one or two points. "So I need to be aggressive and I need to dominate the points because he's really risky with his forehand".

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