INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- 2022 BNP Paribas Open finalist Maria Sakkari rallied from a set and a break down to defeat 15th seed Petra Kvitova 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 and advance to her second straight semifinal in the California desert. Sakkari will face No.2 Aryna Sabalenka on Friday for a spot in her third WTA 1000 final.

"Coming back against her, now that she's playing good, now that she has beaten so many good players, it's a bloody good win," Sakkari said. "I just feel like the fact that I found a way today was one of the best comebacks of my life."

The victory was Sakkari's fourth consecutive three-set win in Indian Wells, with three of those wins coming from a set down. Sakkari is now the joint leader in three-set wins on tour this season, tying Anastasia Potapova with seven.

Playing in her first Indian Wells quarterfinal since 2016, Kvitova was strong out of the gates. Having come off a dramatic match-point saving win over No.3 Jessica Pegula a day earlier, Kvitova showed no signs of fatigue as she powered her forehand through the court to take the opening set 6-4. As Sakkari struggled to find her first serve -- she served at just 35.7% in the opening set -- Kvitova built a 5-2 lead and held off a late surge from the Greek to pocket the set.

Kvitova broke Sakkari immediately to start the second set but the World No.7 kept her composure and slowly turned the tables on Kvitova. The Czech generated five break points compared to Sakkari's two, but it was Sakkari who proved more clutch in the big points. Sakkari converted both break points she earned in the second set, including a break in the final game, coming back from 40-0 down to force a decider. 

In the final set, Sakkari went into lockdown mode. With 36 unforced errors across the first two sets, Sakkari committed only six in the third set. As she pressured Kvitova from the baseline, the Czech struggled to maintain her consistency. After breaking for a 3-1 lead, Sakkari methodically closed out the match in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Sakkari finished the match with 21 winners to 39 unforced errors, while Kvitova fired 29 winners to 52 unforced errors, including 12 double faults. 

"I'm just telling myself, look, you're not playing your best tennis and you're still winning and beating amazing players," Sakkari said. "I mean, my draw was bloody tough. I wouldn't take it in any other tournament.

"By just surviving and just finding ways, eventually I'm sure that my game is going to get better. I really want to see how it's gonna be when I will start feeling good with my game."

The victory improves Sakkari's head-to-head record against Kvitova to 5-3. Six of Sakkari's seven semifinal appearances at WTA 1000 events have now come on hard courts. 

Sakkari will now prepare to face No.2 Sabalenka, who advanced to her third semifinal of the season by losing only four games to Coco Gauff. Sabalenka owns a narrow 4-3 lead in their head-to-head rivalry, but Sakkari has won their past two meetings. Both wins came at the last two editions of the WTA Finals. 

"I think that Aryna is just very confident right now," Sakkari said. "She's seeing the ball [huge]. It's going to be tough no matter what surface we play on.

"I think I heard the commentators saying today she only played, up until today's match, nine rallies over nine shots. That means that she's hitting the ball big. I saw that she was just hitting extremely hard today.

"It's gonna be very tough. I'm not expecting, you know, a win like in Fort Worth. She's gonna be a different player, and I respect that. I'm ready for it." 

Sakkari is bidding to become the first player to make back-to-back finals at Indian Wells since Maria Sharapova in 2013. Defending champion Iga Swiatek, who is set to play her quarterfinal on Thursday, can also match Sharapova's feat.