By Mark Lamport-Stokes
INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Former champion Caroline Wozniacki battled through a marathon encounter to upset fourth-seeded German Angelique Kerber 2-6 6-4 7-5 on Friday and reach her third BNP Paribas Open final in four years.
The eighth-seeded Dane, winner at Indian Wells in 2011 after being a losing finalist the previous year, held off a late fightback by Kerber to scrape through in a wildly fluctuating contest lasting two-and-a-half hours.
In a match littered with 14 service breaks, Wozniacki led 4-1 and then 5-3 in the third set but the German clawed her way back to 5-6 before being broken for a seventh and final time when she netted a forehand.
Wozniacki will next face either 2006 champion Maria Sharapova or her fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko, who were playing their semi-final later on Friday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
"I led 4-1 in the third and should have finished it off there but she's a great fighter," a jubilant Wozniacki said courtside after ending a run of three consecutive losses to the German. "I played a bit short and she was all over it.
"It is very special," the Dane said of reaching her third final at Indian Wells. "I love to play here."
Kerber who won her first WTA singles title in Paris last year, raced into a 4-1 lead before taking the opening set in 38 minutes after Wozniacki hit a backhand service return long.
The 25-year-old German appeared to be in cruise control when she broke her opponent's serve for a fourth time at the start of the second set, then holding to 2-0 up but the match effectively turned in the seventh game.
At 3-3, Wozniacki survived nine deuces and five break points before holding serve and going on to level the match when she broke Kerber in the 11th game after the German netted a forehand.
"Somehow I managed to come back and hold my serve," Wozniacki said of that marathon seventh game in the second set. "We had a really long game there... but I managed to turn it around."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by John O'Brien)
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