The three-time major champion advances to her first career final in the California desert, and first Premier Mandatory final overall, as she’ll look to win her first title at the aforementioned tournament level against breakout Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu on Sunday.
From 4-2 down, the World No.8 ran off the last four games of a high-quality opener which saw nearly 20 winners combined between the two players, and Kerber broke the No.23 seed for the third time from 30-0 down in the set’s last game.
Looking to win her seventh match against a Top 10 opponent in the past four weeks, Bencic was unable to conjure up the magic that saw her defeat Karolina Pliskova in three sets in the previous round, and score two of her four Top 10 wins at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships from a set down.
The Swiss racked up 27 unforced errors in the match to just 14 winners, and Kerber converted seven of the nine break points she held, thanks in part to winning 65 percent of points played in Bencic’s service games overall.
Though she lost serve to begin the second set, Kerber rebounded immediately as the two traded breaks twice in the second set, before she won the last three games to seal the match and her spot in the final.
Despite appearing in her first Premier Mandatory final, the 31-year-old will contest her 29th WTA final overall against the Canadian wildcard in their first-ever meeting.
“I’m really looking forward to a really tough battle. She’s here as a wildcard, and she beat a lot of good players. She has nothing to lose, she enjoys her tennis and she’s a great player,” Kerber said of the teenager.
“I know that I have to play my best tennis in the final again, and I will try to enjoy it as well.”