No. 14 seed Elena Vesnina became the unlikeliest winner in the history of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday, in the all-Russian final defeating two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4 to win her third career WTA title.
Last year the 30-year-old Vesnina lost in the first round of qualifying.
“Tennis is awesome, I can say,” Vesnina said.
The final lasted just over three hours, the longest Indian Wells final in history it terms of games. With the win Vesina rises to a career-high No. 13 on the WTA rankings.
Vesnina in the first set blew 2-0 and 4-2 leads, and eventually trailed a set and a break.
“I spoke with my mom after the match, and she was, like, ‘Oh, my God, the net cord, the set point, and you looked a little bit down in the beginning of the second set.’ But that’s true. I kind of lost that fighting momentum that I was taking to each game. I start missing a lot, started missing a lot of shots from the first or second shot. There were no long rallies like we had in the first set…She was up set 4-1, then 4-2 in the third. She had so many break points on my serve. She was 30-0 up couple of times on her serves. And I always kept coming back.”
Kuznetsova tried to stay upbeat in her post-match conference.
“I gotta be positive,” Kuznetsova. “I made finals here, and that’s great. I lost a match which I should have won, but this is tennis. Nobody died, so I move on, and I’m on a good way. I’m playing better. I’m winning lots of matches in a good way, in two sets. I’m really positive. Definitely I’m really frustrated with that loss, but I will go above that, hopefully, and it will be all right.”
Vesnina overall finished -3 on winners to unforced errors. It was the second Indian Wells all-Russian final after Maria Sharapova beat Elena Dementieva in 2006.
It was Vesnina’s first title since 2013 Eastbourne, and she improved to 3-7 in career finals. Kuznetsova fell to 17-23 in career finals.
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