The revitalised Jankovic is gunning for her 12th WTA Tour win
Former world number one Jelena Jankovic set up a BNP Paribas final meeting with Caroline Wozniacki thanks to a 6-2 6-4 win over eighth seed Samantha Stosur.
Chasing her first title for seven months, Jankovic broke early in both sets against the Australian.
Stosur often made her opponent work hard, but her cause was not helped by a total of 47 unforced errors.
Danish second seed Wozniacki broke five times to ease past Polish number five seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-3.
Jankovic's previous best performance in Indian Wells was a semi-final loss to eventual champion Ana Ivanovic in 2008.
This year, she lost in the third round at both the Australian Open and the Dubai Open, and bowed out in the first round at events in Sydney and Monterrey.
"I feel great. I'm so happy to be in the finals for the first time here," she said. "I haven't been doing well the last couple of tournaments."
The 25-year-old had won both of her previous matches against Stosur, but she said the Australian made it tougher than the score indicated on a windy afternoon.
"When she served and volleyed it was so tough for me to return," Jankovic said. "I was thinking 'how can I do it?', I just tried to stay focused on the returns and do my best. It's a really good win for me."
Stosur, who came into the tournament ranked a career-high 11th in the world, is projected to break into the top 10 by virtue of reaching the semis in California.
The 19-year-old Wozniacki, meanwhile, is set to jump two spots to reach a career-high number two in the world next week thanks to her victory over her friend Radwanska, 21.
"Right now I'm just happy about my result here," said the Dane. "I'm thinking about this tournament, and that's the most important thing for me right now."
A Radwanska comeback looked possible when the pair traded breaks in the fifth and sixth games of the second set, however the teenager edged closer to victory with a break in the seventh game courtesy of a forehand cross-court winner.
She saved a break point in the next game, and then closed it out with one more service break as Radwanska hooked a forehand wide on match point.
"I thought that I played a really good match," Wozniacki said. "I played consistent and tried to be aggressive, but there was a fine line between playing over aggressively and too passively.
"We know each other's strengths and weaknesses. Agnieszka is a great fighter. She doesn't give up. I knew that I had to fight till the last point to win this match."