Azarenka books spot in WTA Indian Wells final
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California.–AFP
Victoria Azarenka, who is trying to become the first three-time WTA winner in Indian Wells, punched her ticket to Sunday's final by rallying to beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 on Friday.
Two-time Australian Open winner Azarenka continued her solid play in the California desert as she goes for her first title of 2021 and 22nd of her career.
The 32-year-old arrived in the semi-finals without dropping a set and after losing the first one to Ostapenko on Friday night she settled in and found her form.
Azarenka is seeking to win the tournament for the third time after victories in 2012 and 2016. She is the only former champion left in either the women's or men's field and with another victory can separate herself from a group of women who have won the trophy twice that includes Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
Azarenka clinched victory on her first match point when Ostapenko slammed a forehand into the net.
This was the second career meeting between the two but the first on hardcourt so it took Azarenka time to feel her opponent out and figure out what her weaknesses.
Ostapenko controlled most of the first set, breaking Azarenka in the second game to go up 2-0. She then held serve to jump out to a 3-0 lead using her powerful groundstrokes to move the Belarussian around the court.
Azarenka went down again 2-0 in the second set but then caught fire while holding serve in the third game.
That started a run of five straight games to take a 5-2 lead. Ostapenko held serve once more but Azarenka served out the set to level the match.
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO x29) bt Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x2) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
Taylor Fritz (USA x31) bt Alexander Zverev (GER x3) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3)
Victoria Azarenka (BLR x27) bt Jelena Ostapenko (LAT x24) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5