INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - For the first time in two months, Belinda Bencic lost a match at the hands of a Top 10 player at the BNP Paribas Open.
In her third No.8 seed Angelique Kerber snapped the resurgent Swiss' 12-match winning streak in the semifinals of the Premier Mandatory event on Friday night, 6-4, 6-2.
"It's always tough to play against Belinda. She played so great in the past few weeks," Kerber said on-court after the match.
"I was trying to focus only on my side of the court. I was trying to play concentrated, and going for it when I had the chance. I really enjoy the semifinals here - it was already twice here, and I'm really happy to be in the final for the first time now."
— WTA (@WTA) March 16, 2019
The three-time major champion advances to her first career final in the California desert, and first Premier Mandatory final overall, as she'll look to win her first title at the aforementioned tournament level against breakout Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu on Sunday.
From 4-2 down, the World No.8 ran off the last four games of a high-quality opener which saw nearly 20 winners combined between the two players, and Kerber broke the No.23 seed for the third time from 30-0 down in the set's last game.
Looking to win her seventh match against a Top 10 opponent in the past four weeks, Bencic was unable to conjure up the magic that saw her defeat Karolina Pliskova in three sets in the previous round, and score two of her four Top 10 wins at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships from a set down.
The Swiss racked up 27 unforced errors in the match to just 14 winners, and Kerber converted seven of the nine break points she held, thanks in part to winning 65 percent of points played in Bencic's service games overall.
Though she lost serve to begin the second set, Kerber rebounded immediately as the two traded breaks twice in the second set, before she won the last three games to seal the match and her spot in the final.
Despite appearing in her first Premier Mandatory final, the 31-year-old will contest her 29th WTA final overall against the Canadian wildcard in their first-ever meeting.
"I'm really looking forward to a really tough battle. She's here as a wildcard, and she beat a lot of good players. She has nothing to lose, she enjoys her tennis and she's a great player," Kerber said of the teenager.
"I know that I have to play my best tennis in the final again, and I will try to enjoy it as well."