Germany’s Kerber, ranked eighth in the world, ended Belinda Bencic’s
12-match winning streak with a 6-4, 6-2 victory to reach the final in
the California desert for the first time in her third semi-final
Kerber won the last four games of the opening set and the last three
games of the second to subdue Bencic, who was coming off her first WTA
title in four years in Dubai.
The 22-year-old Swiss, whose career was disrupted by a string of back
and wrist injuries, had beaten six top-10 players in her winning
streak, including world number one and defending Indian Wells champion
Naomi Osaka in the fourth round here.
But she couldn’t find a way past Kerber, who broke Bencic from 30-0 down in the final game of the opening set.
Kerber dropped her serve in the opening game of the second set, but
broke Bencic twice to lead 3-1 before the Swiss clawed back another
But Kerber, taking full advantage of Bencic’s 27 unforced errors in the match, won the next three games, to clinch it.
“It’s always tough to play against Belinda,” Kerber said. “She played so great in the past few weeks.
“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 semi-finals here – it was already twice here, and
I’m really happy to be in the final for the first time now.”
Kerber, 31, will be playing 18-year-old Andreescu for the first time.
“I’m really looking forward to a really tough battle. She’s here as a
wild card, and she beat a lot of good players,” Kerber said. “She has
nothing to lose, she enjoys her tennis and she’s a great player.”
She’s the first wild card to reach the women’s final at Indian Wells.
“It’s incredible,” she beamed when told of the achievement. “Another goal of mine was to make history and I just did.”
“I really need a moment to soak this all in. This is just so
incredible,” an emotional Andreescu told the crowd. “This past week has
been a dream come true.”
Andreescu, who came through qualifying to reach the final at Auckland
and made the semi-finals in Acapulco in February, had to dig deep to
close it out against Svitolina, who saved on match point against her
serve in the penultimate game to force Andreescu to serve it out.
It would take three more match points for a weary-looking Andreescu
to succeed, when another baseline rally ended with Svitolina firing a
forehand into the net.
“I really need a moment to soak all this in,” said an emotional Andreescu, who was battling cramp in the closing games.
“I think the cramping was because I was so stressed out with
everything,” Andreescu said. “But I have had many moments like this in
the past, playing Challenger events, juniors. Breathing really helps for
me, so I took a lot of deep breaths and I tried not to get mad at
myself. It really worked.
“It was a roller coaster,” she said. “I’m really happy I pulled through.”
Results on Friday in the BNP Paribas Open WTA and ATP Masters hardcourt tournament (x-denotes seeded player):
Roger Federer (SUI x4) bt Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-4, 6-4
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Karen Khachanov (RUS x12) 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/2)
Angelique Kerber (GER x8) bt Belinda Bencic (SUI x23) 6-4, 6-2
Bianca Andreescu (CAN) bt Elina Svitolina (UKR x6) 6-3, 2-6, 6-4
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