Mladenovic, Carreno Busta to crack Top 20 with Indian Wells semi runs

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Neither Pablo Carreno Busta nor Kristina Mladenovic had ever before reached the semis at a Masters/Premier tournament. (AP)

Kristina Mladenovic and Pablo Carreno Busta will reach the Top 20 for the first time with their appearances in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

Mladenovic, who won her first singles title this season, doesn't want to stop there.

"I want to keep going, you know?” she said. “I want to keep working on things that have been working well, against top players, and I'm more focusing on giving myself opportunities to play [those] kind of big matches and big stages.

"Eventually, you know, the ranking is just the consequence of all the work you put on a daily basis. Eventually you're playing those great matches better and better, and give yourself a chance to win them. And then the ranking obviously follows."

The 23-year-old from France said her offseason training has led to improved fitness and consistency, and her development as a top doubles player has added more elements to her game. She pointed to her quarterfinal victory against Caroline Wozniacki, saying she took charge by serving and volleying during important points and using some slices and drop shots.

"[It] helps me, for sure, a lot in my game—all the improvements I did,” said the doubles No. 3, who has won 16 titles including the French Open. “I'm convinced it's thanks to the doubles. So that's an addition to my game. And then I would say mentally … It's my first time playing [in the] quarterfinals at such an important tournament. But in the past, I have been winning big titles in doubles."

Carreno Busta also pointed to mental improvement as a reason for his rise, saying that reaching the Top 20 "was my objective when I started [the] year."

"It's an amazing feeling,” he said. “It's my first time in the semifinal in a Masters 1000, but here in Indian Wells is … You know, for me, this tournament is one of the best.

"I need to work hard, because it's not easy to be here. And I know that if I stop now, I will roll back again."

The 25-year-old said his coaches and some help from former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero allowed him to move up another step.

"Maybe the most important thing was [improving] mentally with my new team,” he said. “We work so hard about [being] focused all the time, to be very aggressive, to try to dominate all the points. And, you know, it's not easy, of course. But they helped me a lot all the time during this year-and-a-half.”

Both players went three sets in their quarterfinal victories.

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