Jelena Jankovic will meet Simona Halep in the BNP Paribas Open final, after Serena Williams’ withdrawal due to a knee injury.
During the third set of Jankovic’s semi-final victory over Sabine Lisicki, it emerged world number one Williams’ return to Indian Wells would not have a fairytale finish – the American forced to pull out of her clash with Halep.
With the third seed through without hitting a ball, Jankovic – the 18th seed – was once again forced to rally from a deficit before seeing off 24th seed Lisicki 3-6 6-3 6-1.
Serbia’s Jankovic, a former world number one, has lost the first set three times in five matches, but has won her way through to the final at the WTA Premier hard-court event.
Jankovic’s performance in California is all the more remarkable given she only had two match wins in 2015 prior to the tournament – beating a qualifier in Dubai, and a lucky loser in Doha.
But the world number 21 was able to capitalise on Lisicki’s lax serve later in the contest, to prevail in one hour, 56 minutes.
Lisicki produced a forehand drop-shot winner to get the decisive break of serve in the first set, and had the match at her mercy when she broke to lead 2-1 in the second.
But only needing to hold for the remainder, Lisicki could do anything but – dropping serve six of a possible seven times thereafter to meekly concede defeat.
Fatigue may have played a part for the one-time Wimbledon finalist Lisicki, who won a two-hour, 40-minute thriller over 2014 champion Flavia Pennetta in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, Jankovic was only on court for 45 minutes as her last-eight opponent Lesia Tsurenko battled injury, and eventually retired hurt.