Lisicki, Jankovic move into IW semis

Indian Wells, CA ( - Sabine Lisicki outlasted defending champion Flavia Pennetta in a three-set thriller to advance to the semifinals of the $5.3 million BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.

After the 15th-seeded Pennetta rallied to win a second-set tiebreaker to continue the match, Lisicki prevailed in a tiebreaker in the third to grind out a 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-4) decision in two hours and 40 minutes.

Pennetta, who upset Agnieszka Radwanska in last year's final in the California desert, had three match points while up 5-4 in the third set. However, the 24th-seeded Lisicki fought back to hold serve and ultimately force a tiebreak.

Lisicki moved on to face former world No. 1 and 2010 Indian Wells champ Jelena Jankovic in Friday's semis. Jankovic, seeded 18th, was flattening Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 4-1 when the Ukrainian, who tweaked her ankle badly during her upset of Eugenie Bouchard on Tuesday, retired on Day 9 at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Friday's other semifinal will pit world No. 1 and two-time Indian Wells champion Serena Williams against third-seeded 2014 French Open runner-up Simona Halep.

The 33-year-old American great Williams, playing here for the first time in 14 years, was the Indian Wells champ back in 1999 and 2001.