Sharapova to meet Wozniacki for Indian Wells crown
Caroline Wozniacki will face Maria Sharapova in the final of the BNP Paribas Open after contrasting semi-finals at Indian Wells on Friday.
Both women booked their third appearance in the event's showpiece, although Sharapova should have a far greater physical edge after Wozniacki battled through two hours and 32 minutes on court to beat Angelique Kerber 2-6 6-4 7-5.
Typical of a Wozniacki encounter, the serve was very much a poisoned chalice throughout, with the Dane weak behind her own delivery but admirably defiant in return. There were 14 breaks in total, divided evenly in a gripping encounter.
All credit had to go to Wozniacki, who found herself a set and break down before launching a response. Kerber brought the aggression and the power, but when Wozniacki got her game together she became a frustrating blanket that absorbed all that Kerber could throw at her.
By set three Wozniacki had established control at 4-1 and 5-3, although she still had to fight off a late rally from the fourth seed before booking her spot in the final. She will now attempt to lift her second Indian Wells crown.
"I led 4-1 in the third and should have finished it off there but she's a great fighter," Wozniacki said. "It is very special. I really enjoy this tournament. I think it shows. I have done great results here in the past, and this is another very good one."
Sharapova was on court fully 50 minutes less than Wozniacki as she saw off compatriot Kirilenko 6-4 6-3. Unlike the other semi-final, the serve was very much Sharapova's ally as she avoided a single break in a comfortable win.
Kirilenko fought hard in set one and had six break chances - all defended by the former world No. 1. Sharapova made the only breakthrough to claim the set and then powered through the second, sealing victory with an almighty forehand winner.
"I've known Maria since we were little girls so there are no secrets out there on court," Sharapova said. "It's always tough to play against someone when you have played so many tournaments together.
"I started to serve better in the second set and that gave me a few free points. She gets so many balls back and likes to play those long points. My job was to be more aggressive than usual."