No.14 seed Elena Vesnina has booked a spot into her first ever Premier Mandatory final at the BNP Paribas Open after a dominating performance over Kristina Mladenovic.
WTA Staff
January 19, 2017

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - No.14 seed Elena Vesnina has booked a spot into her first ever Premier Mandatory final at the BNP Paribas Open after a dominating performance over Kristina Mladenovic.

Vesnina needed just under an hour and a half to put together a 6-3, 6-4 victory to reach her tenth WTA final - and the biggest one of her career.

"This was the biggest final and today, it was big," Vesnina said. "It was electric, to be honest. I felt the atmosphere. It was a very important match for me.

"It's not every day you have nights like this when you're in semifinal of such a prestigious event and fighting for the final."

 

 

Playing in her first Premier Mandatory semifinal, Vesnina showed no signs of nerves against the Frenchwoman, barely putting a foot wrong to build up a commanding 5-0 lead right off the bat.

She was hitting her marks early on as Mladenovic, perhaps drained from yesterday's heroics against Caroline Wozniacki, came out playing uncharacteristically flat. Mladenovic was going to the slice backhand in the opening exchanges, but Vesnina pounced on each one to surge ahead a double break.

The Frenchwoman switched up her tactics, playing more aggressively and rushing the net to earn a break back and cut into Vesnina's lead, but the Russian posted a commanding hold to love to close out the opening set.

Mladenovic got on board much earlier in the second set; after being broken twice to start, she stepped into the court with renewed aggression to earn one back. But Vesnina erased it in the very next game, and continued to march ahead to bring up match point at 5-2 on Mladenovic's serve.

 

 

That's when things started to get shaky for the Russian, as Mladenovic gritted out a hold and broke back as Vesnina tried to serve for the match. But Vesnina overcame Mladenovic - and her nerves - on the second time of asking and moved into the final at Indian Wells for the first time.

"I was kind of telling myself that I'm still ahead of this game. I'm still serving for the match," Vesnina said. The Russian drew from her experience in doubles to help find a way to serve out the match.

"[I had] all this kind of positive thinking and experience, as well. I was serving a lot of times for the match in doubles, for the finals, Grand Slam finals, championship finals, Olympic Games finals. So I kind of had this kind of pressure."

 

 

Vesnina awaits the winner between No.3 seed Karolina Pliskova and Svetlana Kuznetsova, while Mladenovic - who was also seeking a spot into her first Premier Mandatory final - is sent packing.

"I think, my first feeling right now is I think she played a great match," Mladenovic assessed in her post-match press conference. "I felt like she was playing very fast, very aggressive.

"Actually, I didn't feel that bad out there on the court. I came up with my game plan and I thought, she's a very aggressive player, so I thought to play my game with some variation.

"It was just going too fast for me. But I don't feel like I could do much better. I tried obviously till the last point to come back, both sets. I think I showed that, of course."