Defending champion Paula Badosa kept her hopes of securing back-to-back Indian Wells titles alive with a dominant quarter-final win over Veronika Kudermetova.
The Spaniard had lost all three of her previous meetings against the number 21 seed but turned the head-to-head upside down with a convincing 6-3 6-2 victory.
“I’m very happy. I’d never beaten her (until now). I played her three years ago and lost like 6-3 6-2 so imagine happy I am,” she said during her post-match interview on court.
“Whenever I played against her I always made the same mistakes so today I didn’t want to do it for a fourth time in a row. I served very well and I think that was the key. I stayed very aggressive and didn’t let her move me around a lot.”
Badosa had almost flawlessly navigated her way through the draw with wins over Tereza Martincova, Sara Sorribes Tormo and in-form US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez’s and she found her range immediately to take control of the proceedings.
The Spaniard was keen to match her opponent’s aggressive game-plan and broke for a 3-1 advantage with a thumping crosscourt winner.
A love hold was followed by another forehand howitzer to tee up a chance for the double break but Kudermetova produced her own stunning winner off the same wing to make deuce and wriggle to safety.
Badosa then blew three set points on her own serve and had to fend off break back point before a couple of near misses from the Russian saw the 2021 champion take the opener on her fourth opportunity in 38 minutes.
There was a delay to the start of Set 2 as Kudermetova received treatment from the trainer but Badosa maintained her focus to snatch an instant break from deuce.
Kudermetova, who has already reached two WTA finals this year, was competitive throughout but found it difficult to reel in an inspired Badosa, who nailed a trio of aces on her way to another emphatic hold to lead 3-1. The Spaniard turned the screw in the next game with a flurry of huge forehands that secured the double break at the third time of asking.
The advantage was enough to avoid any late nerves and the number five seed continued her run without dropping a set at this tournament by serving out the match with aplomb.
Badosa will now face Maria Sakkari in the last four after the Greek saw off the challenge of Elena Rybakina 7-5 6-4 in the first quarter final of the day.
Sakkari initially took time to settle and it was the big-serving number 17 seed from Kazakhstan who claimed an early break to move 3-0 ahead in just 10 minutes.
Sakkari belatedly found some rhythm and got back on serve against the run of play after an untimely double fault from her opponent gave her a lifeline in the seventh game of the contest.
The number six seed then broke again with a rasping, deep return before completing a purple patch that saw her snare six of the last seven games by serving out a topsy-turvy set in 47 minutes.
Rybakina’s forehand bizarrely malfunctioned at the business-end of the opener but she regrouped and should have gained the initiative at the start of Set 2.
The 22-year-old saw triple break point wiped out by some resilient, clutch tennis from Sakkari before blowing a highly make-able pass just long on a fourth opportunity.
Sakkari, who reached the semi finals at the first WTA 1000 event of the season in Qatar, gratefully seized upon the reprieve to somehow hold after an epic eight-minute game. The Greek then sprung from defence into attack to immediately break for a 2-1 lead.
A sizzling crosscourt return winner threatened the double break but Rybakina leaned heavily on her powerhouse serve to stay in touch at 3-2.
Sakkari continued to play the important points well and never looked like giving up her advantage as she served out the contest on a third match point in one hour and 38 minutes.
“It was my first match in Stadium 1 and I have to say it was pretty successful. I’m very happy with the way I played. There were some moments when I was a little bit tight and a bit stressed, but I am very happy that mentally I got through,” she said during an on-court interview.
“I tried to make it physical and tried to make a lot of balls. I was not serving so great in the first couple of games, but I am very pleased to be in the semi finals, so super happy to get the win.”