By Ros Satar, in Indian Wells
- Karolina Pliskova  v Svetlana Kuznetsova 
- Kristina Mladenovic  v Elena Vesnina 
INDIAN WELLS, USA – With just one former finalist in the mix, will it be experience or momentum that decides the WTA Indian Wells finalists at the BNP Paribas Open.
Karolina Pliskova  v Svetlana Kuznetsova  – H2H: 1-1
We said right at the start that Karolina Pliskova had been one of the favourites to come through the entire field, and give or take a bump in the road in the opening round, she has looked in great form.
She faces Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in her first Indian Wells final, having fallen at this stage last year to the eventual champion Victoria Azarenka. A lot has happened for the Czech since then, including reaching her first Grand Slam final last year at the US Open, where she made a good showing of her self against Angelique Kerber.
Meanwhile Kuznetsova will be hoping it will be third time lucky should she reach the final. She lost out to Daniela Hantuchova in 2007, and Ana Ivanovic the following year.
Yet before that she will need to come up with a plan to better the Czech. The pair met twice last year, with Kuznetsova getting the latest honours at the WTA Finals Round Robin stages and their battles have gone the distance both times – we can expect another three setter.
We would suggest that Kuznetsova has perhaps just a little more variety in her arsenal. Her experience in doubles gives her just a little more weapons in her armoury to combat the hard hitting she can expect from the back of the court. While Pliskova’s court coverage with those long levers of hers means she can cover ground well, she would admit that movement is just one area where she could always improve.
That being said, she is still very much the form player and the only one of the top four seeds standing.
Prediction: Pliskova in three sets.
Pliskova v Kuznetsova
|Karolina Pliskova ||Svetlana Kuznetsova |
|· Second semi-final in as many tournaments
· Highest seed standing
|· Two-time finalist (2007, 2008)|
R2: Monica Puig 16 64 64
R3: Irina-Camelia Begu 64 76(2)
R4: Timea Bacsinszky 51 RET
QF: Garbiñe Muguruza 76(2) 76(5)
R2: Johanna Larsson 76(3) 64
R3: Roberta Vinci 62 26 61
R4: Caroline Garcia 61 64
QF: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 63 62
|Not before 8:30pm (3:30am Saturday, BST)|
Kristina Mladenovic  v Elena Vesnina  – H2H: Vesnina leads 2-0
Kristina Mladenovic was really happy to be up there contending for yet another final after a great post-Australian Open run, as she fought back from a dominant start by former champion Caroline Wozniacki.
The signs were not great to begin with as Wozniacki leapt out to a 5-1 lead over the Frenchwoman but h=by her own admission she was throwing in tactics like serve and volley in the second set tie-break to give herself a fighting chance.
We saw some amazing exchanges at the net between Elena Vesnina and Venus Williams, with everything pointing to a match akin to chess as these two singles and doubles players fight for a semi-final spot.
At the moment Mladenovic’s form is on fire – she won her first career title in St Petersburg, and reached the Acapulco final, and at the moment, fatigue has been kept at bay.
She told reporters: “It’s a lot of matches and, to be honest, I mean, it’s like the longest kind of string of winning matches I had so far in my career, and it feels great.
“But in the same time, every day I go out there on the court, in the gym practicing, it’s for moment like that. So I’m not getting too excited. I’m just super satisfied that I am on that kind of stages right now and trying to use my chances, you know, my opportunities I have.”
Vesnina was very solid on Thursday from the back of the court and equally impressive coming forward. The same was true for Mladenovic. This is a tough one to call – both are riding up the rankings and Vesnina perhaps has a little more experience to hand to keep herself calm, as she joked after her fight with Williams.
She said: “It was not easy. When she won the second set, I was, like, I saw previous matches that she was down with match point with a set point, and I was like, Uh-Oh, it’s coming back again. I’m going to be another victim of Venus. I don’t want. I want to win this. I want this match.”
Prediction: Vesnina in three sets.
Vesnina v Mladenovic
|Elena Vesnina ||Kristina Mladenovic |
|· Best showing at Indian Wells
· Last year fell in first round of qualifying
|· Best showing at Indian Wells
· Last year fell in her opening round
R2: Shelby Rogers 64 75
R3: Timea Babos 64 16 64
R4: Angelique Kerber 63 63
QF: Venus Williams 62 46 63
R2: Annika Beck 60 75
R3: Simona Halep 63 63
R4: Lauren Davis 63 63
QF: Caroline Wozniacki 36 76(4) 62
|Not before 7:00pm (2am Saturday, BST)|
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