Angelique Kerber ended Venus Williams’s run at Indian Wells Thursday night in the quarterfinals. Kerber and Williams battled in a tight first set, but then German, who was down 4-2 early, pulled away from the visibly ailing Williams who struggled with her shoulder on her serve.
Kerber advanced 7-6(3), 6-3 to her third Indian Wells semifinal, first since 2013.
“Today I think she played really tricky, but in the good way,” Kerber said. “It was really hard for me to play my game, also with changing the rhythm and everything.”
“I was really trying, in the first set especially, to find my rhythm and play my tennis, but it was not so easy,” Kerber said. “And, to play against Venus, it’s always tough. I know this. I was expecting a tough match. I’m happy that I won the first set and then could move in and play a little bit better.”
Venus was trying to return to the semifinals, but the 38-year-old just fell short.
“I did the best I could,” Venus said. “She’s won a lot of matches. She knows how to survive.”
Kerber will meet the hot-handed Belinda Bencic in the semifinal tonight. Bencic won her 12th straight match toughing through former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
“I’m very confident,” Bencic said. “You know, I’m really just trying to take it one step at a time. Of course now it’s been a few steps more. But, you know, I’m not putting pressure on myself even now. I’m just playing.”
It’s Bencic’s first Premier Mandatory semifinal.
Pliskova, who was the highest seed left in the event, said she just had a bad day.
“I was struggling, I think, a little bit with myself since the beginning of the match,” Pliskova said. “Physically it was tough somehow today, and the wind didn’t help much.
“So my serve was bad, my shots were bad,” she added. “I think still good that I fought, that it went to the third set. But otherwise, yeah, not even close to my good tennis.”
Bencic leads Kerber 3-1, but the German took the last meeting last summer at Wimbledon.
“It will be completely different match tomorrow,” Kerber said of Bencic. “Bencic is playing really flat and she’s going for it. She has a lot of confidence, especially from the last weeks. It will be not an easy match. It will be a battle. But I’m looking forward.
“I mean, this is the matches I’m always looking forward to have, especially in big tournaments, semis. And I know that I have to play also aggressive and go for it tomorrow.”
In the earlier semifinal, Canadian 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu will look to continue her incredible season against Elina Svitolina. Both players are appearing in their first Indian Wells semifinal. For Andreescu, this is her biggest semifinal by far on her short WTA career.
“I think confidence is everything, and also experience, too,” Andreescu said. “I just started playing these high-level events a year ago, and I think I’m gaining more and more experience after every match. Win or lose, I always learn something. And I think this year all the wins have definitely given me confidence.”
The two have never played before.
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