Victoria Azarenka, who is attempting to become the first woman to win three WTA titles in Indian Wells, advanced to Sunday’s final with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory against former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko on Friday.
Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion, is aiming for her first victory of 2021 and her 22nd overall in the California desert.
After losing the opening set to Ostapenko on Friday night, the 32-year-old settled in and recovered her form in the semifinals.
After victories in 2012 and 2016, Azarenka is attempting to win the tournament for the third time. She is the only past champion remaining in either the women’s or men’s field, and a win would put her ahead of a group of women who have won the trophy twice, including Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, and Maria Sharapova.
When Ostapenko slammed a forehand into the net, Azarenka clinched victory on her first match point.
This was their second career match, but their first on hardcourt, thus it took Azarenka some time to get to know her opponent and identify her flaws.
Ostapenko dominated the first set for the most part, breaking Azarenka in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. She then held serve to take a 3-0 lead, moving the Belarussian about the court with her powerful ground strokes.
In the second set, Azarenka was down 2-0, but she came back strong in the third game, holding service.
That sparked a five-game winning streak to grab a 5-2 lead. Ostapenko held serve once more, but Azarenka levelled the match by serving out the set.
In a tense third set, Azarenka elevated her game yet more, winning the final three games to advance to the final.
In the Final, Azarenka will meet Paula Badosa of Spain, who defeated Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the second semi-final at the Tennis Garden arena on Friday night.