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If we look at the numbers and their performances in the recent times, then second-seeded and four-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova appears crushing favorite against her compatriot and thirteenth-seeded Maria Kirilenko, but the latter has it to create a massive upset here and she has proved it in this tournament only by ousting two Top 10 players. With two victories away from this WTA Premier title at BNP Paribas Open, we can expect all the fireworks and intriguing tennis action, when these two Russians will try to outdo each other today.
Bidding for her 28th career title, Sharapova would be looking forward to win this encounter in straight sets because Kirilenko has emerged as a master of three-setters this season. The World No. 15 won her sixth WTA title last month in Pattaya City, where she won two duels in three sets. Interestingly, all her four victories in Indian Wells came in three sets. With 6-0 record in three setter encounters this season, Sharapova cannot afford to go a bit complacent against her compatriot. Kirilenko upset World No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round and the outsmarted World No.7 Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals.
Gunning for her second title of the season, Kirilenko has been enjoying a decent run this season with a very good 13-3 win-loss record. Obviously, she must be feeling a bit pressure going into this match against the World No. 3 Sharapova – in her biggest WTA semi-final so far. In fact, this is not a familiar territory for the World No. 5, while her opponent Sharapova is playing in her third straight Indian Wells Semifinal. Sharapova has not dropped a set so far in this tournament. If Kirilenko wants to continue her dream-run here then she needs to make a fine start here.
In head-to-head, Sharapova leads with 4-2 against her compatriot. In fact, the second-seeded Russian has won both of her encounters against Kirilenko last year, including a three-setter in the Indian Wells quarterfinals.
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