Maria Sakkari overcame an early deficit to beat Elena Rybakina 7-5 6-4 and will face Paula Badosa in an intriguing Indian Wells semi-final on Friday after the defending champion crushed Veronika Kudermetova 6-3 6-2.
Greek Sakkari clawed her way back from 4-1 down in the first set with help from 20 unforced errors by her Kazakh opponent and seized the momentum for good in the second set when she saved four break points to take a 2-0 lead.
The sixth-seeded Sakkari sealed victory when Rybakina shanked a forehand on match point to reach her 20th career semi-final and third straight this year under sunny skies in the Southern California desert.
"I had a rough start," Sakkari told reporters.
"I was a little bit nervous. But then I just had faith in my game. I knew that if I could break her back, I would get back into the match. Making a lot of balls after being 4-1 down gave me a good chance."
The 26-year-old has learned to be kind to herself when she gets nervous, as she admitted to being in her first match on Stadium One.
"I just try to have a nice chat with myself," she said.
"In the past I would be very, very hard on myself. But now I'm very nice. I have a very nice and kind creature in my mind, in my body."
Next up for Sakkari is a showdown with the Spaniard Badosa, who won her first match against Russia's Kudermetova in four career meetings.
Badosa broke early for a 3-1 lead and fended off a break point to serve out the first set. She broke again to start the second set and Kudermetova was unable to adjust her return game, losing the match when she failed to put Badosa's serve up the T back in play.
"I think this court is magic for me," Badosa said in an on-court interview after improving to 10-0 at Indian Wells.
Badosa won the only other meeting against Sakkari in straight sets in Guadalajara in November.
"Tomorrow is going to be a match between two fighters," Badosa said.
"I really respect her and I hope tomorrow we'll have a very good match."
The winner will face either Simona Halep or Iga Swiatek in the final of the WTA 1000 tournament.
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