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Kuznetsova, Vesnina set up all-Russian Indian Wells final

Elena Vesnina of Russia celebrates after winning her BNP Paribas Open semifinal against Kristina Mladenovic of France at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, on Friday.
 INDIAN WELLS, March 18: Twice grand slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova and 14th seed Elena Vesnina posted hard-fought, straight-set wins in Friday’s semifinals to set up an all-Russian final in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

Kuznetsova played exceptional defence and used her strong serve and a varied groundstroke attack to edge third seed Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2) in a tense showdown following Vesnina’s 6-3, 6-4 win over Kristina Mladenovic.

The 31-year-old eighth seed Kuznetsova rose to the occasion in the tiebreakers, storming out to a 6-2 lead in each.

Nerves struck in the first-set decider as she netted two backhands and produced an embarrassing double fault that made it 6-5 before rifling a forehand passing winner to end it.

There were no dramas after taking the big tiebreak lead in the second set and she raced along the baseline for another retrieval that induced a wide forehand from the disgusted Czech, who flung down her racket as Kuznetsova rejoiced. – Agencies

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