The final on Sunday will be the first time that she and Canadian sensation, 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu-also into her first Indian Wells final-will play each other.
The Canadian, who made the 2016 final (l.to Djokovic), didn't have his best serving day - making only 55per cent of his first serves - but he made the ones he landed count, winning nearly 90 per cent (30/34) of his rocket first offerings.
"I will try my best to recover - these are the matches I want to play", he said.
Kecmanovic held his own for much of the his first tour-level quarter-final, stretching Raonic to the corners to start the point and opening up the court. A year ago at Indian Wells, she was ranked No. 8, played through two top-25 players (and little sister Serena) and didn't drop a set until bowing out to Daria Kasatkina in the semis.
"Even when I was hitting the spots, I wasn't hitting them that well", Raonic said about his serving.
But from 3-2 and a break down, Andreescu had one last twist in store as she reeled off three straight games to set her up to serve for the title with a 5-3 lead.
In the second set, Andreescu committed a forehand volley error to set up Kerber's first break point at 3-1. Indeed, her game is a flawless mixture of traditional North American power tennis and the inventive defending of Halep or Monica Niculescu.
Milos Raonic moved into his fourth Indian Wells Masters semi-final, while Dominic Thiem was handed a walkover on Thursday.
Against Svitolina, she survived two hours and 12 minutes of rollercoaster tennis to prevail.
She will now face Angelique Kerber in the semi-finals after the eighth seed overcame Venus Williams in straight sets. Despite starting out down in the first set of the PNB Paribas semifinals, Kerber dug deep to power through the win, 6-4, 6-2.
What is perhaps most impressive about Andreescu's game - in addition to her maturity, her ability to settle herself after a disappointing string of points and calm her nerves midmatch - is how fully developed it is from all angles. "Physically it was tough, and the wind didn't help much". "So my serve was bad, my shots were bad". She obliterated two-time Slam champion Muguruza 6-0, 6-1 and knocked out No. 6 seed Elina Svitolina in a close semifinal.
Bencic improved to 18-3 this year. "She has nothing to lose, she enjoys her tennis and she's a great player".
But the 22-year-old Swiss was no match for Kerber, who broke seven times throughout the routine triumph. "You know, I'm really just trying to take it one step at a time. I'm definitely playing how I feel it, and it's going so well I'm not planning on changing that".
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