Svetlana Kuznetsova vs Elena Vesnina, Indian Wells Final Preview

BNP Paribas Open, ??? Indian Wells, ? Final Match Preview
(8) ?? Svetlana Kuznetsova vs (14) ?? Elena Vesnina

A totally unexpected championship match at the 2017 BNP Paribas Open sees compatriots Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Vesnina do battle. This will be a momentous occasion for both ladies at this stage of their respective careers. Kuznetsova has twice reached the final in Indian Wells and will be hoping for third time lucky as she looks for her first title in the Californian desert, for Vesnina this is the biggest final of her career and a surprise opportunity to win her first premier mandatory title. Kuznetsova and Vesnina have been Fed Cup teammates for almost a decade, adding another element of drama to this final.

Svetlana Kuznetsova is into a premier mandatory final for the third consecutive season. The Russian veteran has been in superb form in the last couple of weeks, dropping just one set on route to the final. Kuznetsova got through the first stage of the event with a straight set win over Johanna Larsson and a three set win over Roberta Vinci. Kuznetsova really raised her level from there on, claiming comprehensive straight set wins over Caroline Garcia and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Kuznetsova’s most impressive performance was at the semi-final stage where she overcame Karolina Pliskova 7-6 7-6 to secure a spot in Sunday’s final. Kuznetsova’s semi-final against Pliskova was arguably one of the highest level matches of the season, Kuznetsova ended the match with 28 winners to 18 unforced errors, it was a courageous performance as Pliskova gave everything she had.

This is the biggest moment in the career of Elena Vesnina, at the age of 30. Vesnina was eliminated in the first round of qualifying at the 2016 BNP Paribas Open, in 2017 she is into the final, an unbelievable transformation in results. Vesnina has done things the hard way, coming through a very tough draw to reach the biggest final of her career. Vesnina kick-started the event with a tough straight set win over Shelby Rogers before battling past Timea Babos in a tight three set match. Vesnina caused a big upset in the fourth round when she eliminated the top ranked Angelique Kerber in straight sets before overcoming a tough challenger from Venus Williams, winning 6-2 4-6 6-3 to reach the semi-finals. Vesnina confirmed her spot in Sunday’s final with a surprisingly comprehensive 6-3 6-4 win over Kristina Mladenovic.

Strangely enough, Kuznetsova and Vesnina have only met on two previous occasions, which they split one win apiece. The only relatively recent match between the pair took place on clay in Estoril in 2014, Kuznetsova won 6-3 6-1. It will be interesting to see how the pair match-up in 2017.

This is a huge final for both ladies, nerves will be a big factor, who can control their nerves and make the most of this moment? I must give the edge to Kuznetsova heading into this match, Kuznetsova is far more experienced at this stage of big events and knows what it takes to win big titles. This is totally unprecedented territory for Vesnina so it is unknown how she will respond. I think the surface suits Kuznetsova as does this match-up. Kuznetsova does most things better than Vesnina, heavier shots and is also a better mover around the court as well as having experience on her side. All things point to a Kuznetsova victory here.

Prediction: Svetlana Kuznetsova to defeat Elena Vesnina in 2 sets


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