By Leighton Ginn
Elena Vesnina has been following Venus Williams closely, so she knew there could be trouble in that third set of the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal on Thursday, based on history.
“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. I’m going to be another victim of Venus,'” Vesnina said laughing. “I don’t want. I want to win this. I want this match.”
Vesnina was able to hold off Williams, despite down love-40 on her serve in the final game, holding on for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory to advance to the semifinals. She will face Kristina Mladenovic, the lowest seed in the semifinals. No. 3 Karolina Pliskova will face No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the other semifinal.
In her post-match press conference, Williams alluded to having an injury issue that had slowed her up.
“I would just like to be healthy just like the next human being,” Williams said. “You beat your body up in sport, and I want to play these big events. I don’t want to be at home watching. It’s frustrating either way, not to be 100 percent or to watch at home. Which one do you choose?
“I chose to be here. That was my choice. I gave it my best today, and I’m looking forward to playing her again, hopefully healthy and 100 percent, and will have an opportunity to really show what I can do in these kind of matches.”
Vesnina noticed that Williams didn’t seem like herself early in the match.
“In the first set, it was a little bit unexpected,” Vesnina said. “When I was up 3-Love in the first set, she was missing some easy shots. She looked tired and slow on the court. Then, all of a sudden, she started moving around, hitting great shots, winners from all over the place.”
In Friday’s semifinal, Vesnina knows she’s got a tough match against one of the hottest players on tour. And after her quarterfinal win, Vesnina had a doubles match to play.
“It’s going to be difficult match, but on the other hand, it’s very exciting to play the semifinal match here in Indian Wells,” Vesnina said.