Elena Vesnina battled for more than two hours and needed four match points before finally ending the Venus Williams’s run at Indian Wells.
Vesnina’s 6-2 4-6 6-3 victory sends her through to the semifinals where she will meet Kristina Mladenovic.
Mladenovic earlier on Thursday came from behind to beat Caroline Wozniacki.
“I’m in the semifinal of BNP Indian Wells tournament, one of the biggest Masters Series tournament. I guess I’m on fire. I’m enjoying myself on the court, and I’m really happy with my wins here,” Vesnina said.
“This win today against Venus really means a lot for me. It’s never easy to play against her. She’s a great champion and always fighting till the end. I’m really happy that I pulled (out) this win.”
Vesnina began the match as sharply as Williams began it sluggishly.
But in the second set, Williams found some more range and potency on her groundstrokes and brought the pro-Venus crowd to life.
In the third set, the match reverted to the pattern of the third set.
Yet Williams again came alive when Vesnina approached the finish line, saving three match points in the eighth game to hold for 3-5 and then reaching 0-40 as Vesnina served for the match.
Yet the Russian – despite a battle of a game that featured four deuces – ultimately prevailed.
“I didn’t even think about that it’s love-40. It was point by point, trying to create a good rally, trying to move her around.
It was difficult a little bit for me. I was struggling with the first-serve percentage in the end of the third set, so it was really important with me. I start serving with a little bit less power, and a bit more pace.
Couple of kind of big points she gave me unforced error, and I stick to this game. You know, I was, like, I never gonna lose this game. I was really fighting like it’s the last game of my life.
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