Elena Vesnina has won the biggest singles title of her career after defeating fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7(6), 7-5, 6-4 in the BNP Paribas Open final on Sunday.
The World No. 15 stormed back from a set and 1-4 down to claim the WTA Premier Mandatory event. She will rise to No. 13 in the world — a career best — when the latest WTA rankings are released on Monday.
“I cannot believe it to be honest, to win such a big title against Svetlana, a Top 10 player,” said Vesnina. “When I was down 4-1 in the second set, it seemed like so far away this title. Now I won it and I’m so, so happy. I was playing a bit more free when I was down in the score. I took my chances.”
The 8th-ranked Kuznetsova secured the first set 7-6(6) in 71 minutes, converting on her third set point while serving 7/6 in the tiebreak, when a net cord winner dribbled over the net.
"I've always loved #IndianWells, but I love it even more now," says a beaming @EVesnina001 post-#BNPPO17 win. Her third @WTA singles 🏆 pic.twitter.com/e0nyQxFXiI
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 19, 2017
In the second set, Vesnina found herself down a break at 1-4. A pep talk from father and coach Sergey Vesnin seemed to turn the tide as the World No. 15 reeled off six of the next seven games to clinch it 7-5 as the Rolex clock ticked over to two hours and 13 minutes.
Vesnina secured a key break in the ninth game of the third set, crushing a return to put herself in position to serve for the match. She closed it out on her second championship point in just over three hours.
.@EVesnina001 JUST finds the line and breaks!
She's serving for the @BNPPARIBASOPEN title! pic.twitter.com/tVJZAAUVke
— WTA (@WTA) March 19, 2017
Vesnina’s impressive run into Sunday’s final included an upset of No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber in the round of 16 and a three-set thriller over Venus Williams in the quarterfinals.
The right-hander from Sochi was appearing in her tenth final and the most prestigious in her career. This is Vesnina’s third singles title (also 2013 Hobart, Eastbourne). In doubles, she has lifted three trophies in Indian Wells: 2013 (w/ Makarova), 2011 (w/ Mirza), and 2008 (w/ Safina).
St. Petersburg native Kuznetsova was appearing in her 40th career final and third here in the Coachella Valley. She finished runner-up in 2007 (l. to Hantuchova) and 2008 (l. to Ivanovic).
For their efforts, Vesnina receives $1,175,505 in prize money and 1,000 ranking points, while Kuznetsova leaves the Indian Wells Tennis Garden with $573,680 and 650 points.