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By Chris Oddo | Thursday March 17, 2017

Elena Vesnina took her place in the BNP Paribas Open semifinal by edging Venus Williams, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 on Thurday night at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Vesnina reaches her first semifinal at the event and sets up a clash with France’s Kristina Mladenovic.

Vesnina stormed ahead and raced through the first set but Williams picked up her level to snatch the middle set and force a decider. The match was Williams third three-setter of the week. She saved three match points to get by Jelena Jankovic in her first match then battled past Peng Shuai in three sets to reach the quarterfinals.

Williams had a short-lived break lead in the third set but Vesnina took control, winning five of six games to grab a 5-2 lead in the final set. Williams saved three match points to hold and then earned six break points in the next game, but Vesnina held her nerve to hold her serve, finally clinching victory on her fourth match point.

“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,” Vesnina said. “I'm going to be another victim of Venus. I don't want. I want to win this. I want this match.”

Vesnina is one of two Russians to reach the semifinals. Svetlana Kuznetsova reached the semifinals on Wednesday and will face Karolina Pliskova for a spot in the final. Two Russians have reached the semis at Indian Wells for the first time since 2013.

“She's inspiring,” Vesnina said. “She's a great player, and I think we have kind of the same momentum in our life and our career. Yeah, we are definitely -- both of us in the semifinals, so this is great for Russian tennis.”

 

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