Ostapenko seals semis date with Azarenka in Indian Wells


Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko advanced to her first WTA 1000 semi-final in three years, coming back from the brink in the final set to defeat unseeded Shelby Rogers 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the BNP Paribas Open here.

On a great run at Indian Wells, Jelena, the 2017 Roland Garros champion, defeated Hsieh Su-Wei, Yulia Putintseva, Iga Swiatek, and Shelby, to advance to her third semi-final of 2021, where she will face two-time champion Victoria Azarenka for a spot in her first WTA 1000 final since 2018 Miami.

It was an up and down performance for Jeleba who fired 51 winners to 46 unforced errors in the match. Shelby hit 22 winners to 17 unforced errors.

Coming off her stellar straight-set win over No.2 seed Swiatek in the Round of 16, the 24th-seeded Latvian kept her clean sheet against Rogers, moving to 3-0 against the American. The first fall edition of Indian Wells has been a surprising success for Jelena, who had never advanced past the third round in the California desert before this week.

Jelena opened the match at a quick pace, winning five of the first six games in just 22 minutes. Striking the ball big off the ground for a barrage of baseline winners, OstapenkoJele

But Rogers’ ability to dig in her heels and turn a set or match around has been well-proven over the last weeks, where she has scored wins over No.1 Ashleigh Barty at the US Open, Bianca Andreescu in Chicago, and a thriller against Leylah Fernandez in the fourth round of Indian Wells.

Rogers slowly began to turn the tables as Jelena’s blistering hitting began to cool. Roger rallied from 1-5 down to win the next three games, but Jelena broke for a fourth time to take the set 6-4.

Rogers may have dropped the first set but as the second set began, she had leveled up with Jelena and had her teeth in the match. While Ostapenko dominated second serve returns in the first set, it was Rogers who found better success pressuring second serves in the second set, winning 9 of 10 second-serve return points and breaking Jelena’s serve four times to edge out a hotly contested 6-4 set.

While Rogers hit 4 winners to 6 unforced errors in the first set, the 29-year-old from Charleston turned it around in the second set, hitting 9 winners to 6 unforced errors in a smart, contained performance. Jelena hit 14 winners in the middle frame, but misfired on 18 unforced errors.

Earlier, Victoria Azarenka, the No.27 seed from Belarus, charged past 19th-seeded Jessica Pegula, 6-4, 6-2, on Wednesday, becoming the first semi-finalist at the 2021 edition in the desert.

Former World No.1 Azarenka, who was the Indian Wells champion in 2012 and 2016, took an hour and 34 minutes to end the run of American Pegula and reach the final four of this event for the fourth time in her career.

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