By Leighton Ginn
Judging my her previous four appearance at the BNP Paribas Open, it would be a stretch to predict that Kristina Mladenovic would make a deep run at Indian Wells.
And on Thursday, it seemed unlikely that she would get past Carolina Wozniacki, a former champion and No. 1 player that she had never beaten in three previous meetings.
But this isn’t just any tournament for Mladenovic.
She beat Wozniacki, the 2011 BNP Paribas Open champion, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2 to reach her first semifinal. Earlier in the tournament, she beat No. 4 Simona Halep, the 2015 BNP Paribas Open champion.
Coming into the tournament, Mladenovic had won a title in Russia and reached the finals in Acapulco right before coming out to Indian Wells.
“It feels great, obviously. It’s a lot of matches and it’s like the longest kind of string of winning matches I had so far in my career, and it feels great,” Mladenovic said. “Every day I go out there on the court, in the gym practicing, it’s for moment like that. So I’m not getting too excited. I’m just super satisfied that I am on that kind of stages right now and trying to use my chances.
” Yeah, I’m enjoying my time on the court, and very happy.”
Mladenovic will face Elena Vesnina, who beat Venus Williams 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 on Thursday.
Until the first set Thursday, Mladenovic hadn’t lost a set in the tournament. With the victory, Mladenovic will crack the top 20 for the first time in her career.
To get to the semifinal, Mladenovic took a big gamble in the second-set tiebreaker by coming in to serve-and-volley.
“Because every time I would serve good on the backhand, she would go very deep and return well,” Mladenovic said. “I was, like, ‘Okay, let’s just be creative here.’ And it paid off, and it gave me a chance to fight in the third set. I think the third set was the best game of today for me.”