Maria Sharapova reached her first final of 2013 on Friday, beating Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 6-3 in a semifinal slugfest to set up a title showdown with Caroline Wozniacki at the ATP Masters/WTA BNP Paribas Open here.
By reaching the final, Sharapova is projected to rise one spot to No. 2 in the world when the new rankings are announced on Monday.
“It’s better than three, right?” said Sharapova, who was more focused on capturing a first title since her 2012 French Open victory gave her a career Grand Slam.
She is playing in only her third tournament of the year. After withdrawing from Brisbane with a right collarbone injury she reached the semifinals at the Australian Open and Doha.
The Russian lifted the trophy in the California desert in 2006 and was runner-up last year to Victoria Azarenka.
But in Wozniacki, who outlasted fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, she’ll be up against an opponent with an equally strong Indian Wells resume: a title in 2011 and a runner-up finish in 2010.
“She’s always a tough opponent,” Sharapova said of Wozniacki.
del Potro downs Murray
Juan Martin del Potro toppled Andy Murray on Friday to book a semifinal showdown with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a men’s quarterfinal match.
del Potro, ranked seventh in the world and the seventh seed in this combined ATP and WTA tournament, beat world No. 3 Murray 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1.
The results: Men: Quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-1; Juan Martin del Potro bt Andy Murray 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1.
Women: Semifinals: Caroline Wozniacki bt Angelique Kerber 2-6, 6-4, 7-5; Maria Sharapova bt Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 6-3. — Agencies