Svetlana Kuznetsova booked an all-Russian final at the BNP Paribas Open after squeezing past World No. 3 Karolina Pliskova 7-6(5), 7-6(2) under the Stadium 1 lights on Friday.
The World No. 8 converted on her first match point while leading 6-2 in the tie-break, and closed out the nearly two-hour contest with a thrilling rally.
The women struck 70 winners in total, with 28 coming off the Kuznetsova racket, and 42 from the Czech.
This is the 31 year old’s 40th career final and third in Indian Wells. She finished runner-up in back-to-back finals in 2007 (l. to Hantuchova) and 2008 (l. to Ivanovic).
Kuznetsova, a two-time major champion (2004 US Open and 2009 Roland Garros), will face fellow Russian Elena Vesnina in Sunday’s final. This is their first meeting in almost three years (1-1 head-to-head).
"We’ve been teammates since we were 12 [years old]," said Kuznetsova about Vesnina. "It’s great that it’s a Russian final.
"I’m really happy for [Vesnina]. I am looking forward to having a great game and may the best win."
Pliskova was bidding for her third final of the season, having picked up titles in Brisbane (d. Cornet) in January and Doha (d. Wozniacki) in February.