Halep, Williams fall in Indian Wells semis


Naomi Osaka and Daria Kasatkina will go head to head for the BNP Paribas Open title after stunning Simona Halep and Venus Williams respectively in the semi-finals at Indian Wells on Friday.

"I really just make too many errors". "I'm really glad I was able to finish on my serve instead of having to break her or something like that". "I don't find excuses".

Standing in the way of Osaka's first WTA championship at Indian Wells is another 20-year-old, Russian 20th seed Daria Kasatkina, who prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a almost three-hour semifinal battle with eighth seed Venus Williams.

She knocked out two-time Indian Wells champion Maria Sharapova in the first round, 2014 finalist Agnieszka Radwanska and two-time semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova on her way to the final.

She trailed 3-1 again in the second and tied it 3-all when Kasatkina was broken on a double fault.

The Russian has posted victories over each of the four reigning Grand Slam champions within the past seven months, and her route to the Indian Wells title match has seen her defeat four consecutive top-20 players and Major winners.

Meanwhile, Kasatkina rolled over her third top-10 player in a row to reach her first Indian Wells final.

"Match like this, you're just speechless". "You're just staying on the return, and you're like, 'Come on, maybe it's the moment of your life'".

Simona Halep lost her second match of the year in only 64 minutes. Williams hit a cross-court forehand victor on the first match point but then dumped a backhand into the net to end the two hour, 49 minute marathon showdown.

Ultimately the young Russian proved to be too strong for the 37-year-old Williams, who appeared to hit a wall at about the two and a half hour mark. She committed five double-faults and was successful with just 60 percent of her first serves, compared to 73 percent for Kasatkina.

That is not to say that Osaka does not move well and has shifted her game style from being a powerful counter-puncher to a more aggressive baseliner.

Williams had nearly double the number of unforced errors, 63-45, and broke Kasatkina six times but she also made five double faults - some at crucial moments in the match.

Williams, who was winning matches in Indian Wells before Kasatkina was even born, has enjoyed a longevity in tennis that is rarely achieved.

World number 19 Kasatkina overcame 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the third round, before beating January's Australian Open victor and world number two Caroline Wozniacki.

"Anyone who gets used to losses should give up on life", Williams said.

Kasatkina showed her quality when she upset No. 13 Sloane Stephens, No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 10 Angelique Kerber all in straight sets en route to the semifinals.