Victoria Azarenka vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Montreal R1 Preview

🇨🇦 Rogers Cup, Montreal R1 Preview
🇧🇾 (wc) Victoria Azarenka vs. 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic

Victoria Azarenka begins her Rogers Cup campaign on Tuesday evening in Montreal. The Belarusian will come up against France’s Kristina Mladenovic. There is a bit of uncertainty surrounding Azarenka heading into this event after injury forced her to retire from her quarter-final match in San Jose last week. Can Azarenka rebound in Montreal?

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in action during her second-round match at the 2018 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Injury continues to interrupt the progress of Victoria Azarenka. The 2-time former Grand Slam champion has shown glimpses of her best in 2018 but has not been able to consistently compete at a high level. Azarenka started her U.S hard court swing last week in San Jose where she played some good tennis on route to the quarter-finals. Unfortunately the week ended in disappointment as Azarenka was forced to retire injured from a set up against Collins, a sudden back complaint early in the second set cut her week short.

Kristina Mladenovic also started her U.S hard court swing in San Jose last week. Mladenovic’s campaign was over at the first hurdle as she was defeated by Timea Babos 4-6 2-6. Prior to that Mladenovic had a decent grass court season, she is certainly playing better lately than she did during her horror run late last year.

The only previous match between the pair took place at Wimbledon in 2015, Azarenka claimed a 6-4 6-4 victory.

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Serena Williams vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Wimbledon R3 Preview

🇬🇧 Wimbledon, R3 Preview
🇺🇸 (25) Serena Williams vs. 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic

Serena Williams faces her first real test of the tournament when she takes on Kristina Mladenovic on Friday with a spot in the fourth round up for grabs at Wimbledon. It was hard to know what to expect from Serena heading into this event but after a couple of matches it seems she is a genuine contender in a draw that has already lost multiple big names. However, Mladenovic has pushed Serena in the past and often raises her level for matches like this where she has nothing to lose. Can the Frenchwoman cause a big upset?

Kristina Mladenovic of France in action during the second round at the 2018 Wimbledon Championships Grand Slam tournament

Serena Williams has gradually improved her level over her first couple of matches this week. The 7-time former champion started the event with a nervy 7-5 6-3 victory over Arantxa Rus. Serena looked far more comfortable in a 6-1 6-4 victory over Viktoriya Tomova. Whilst the calibre of opponent hasn’t been too troublesome, the signs are good for Serena, her serve is working well, her movement is also looking much sharper than it did in previous events this year.

Kristina Mladenovic arrived at Wimbledon having been eliminated at the opening round stage in her last 3 Grand Slam appearances. Therefore, it has already been a great event for the Frenchwoman as she has equaled her best ever showing at SW19. Mladenovic started the event with a 5-7 6-2 6-2 win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova before claiming a commanding 6-2 6-2 win over Tatjana Maria. Importantly, Mladenovic’s match against Maria was moved to Centre Court, a good experience before this big match with Serena.

The only previous match between the pair took place at Roland Garros in 2016. It was an extremely competitive match, Serena ultimately claimed a 6-4 7-6 victory. It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out on a grass court.

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Tatjana Maria vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Wimbledon R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Wimbledon, R2 Preview
🇩🇪 Tatjana Maria vs. 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic

An interesting second round match-up from Wimbledon on Wednesday sees in-form German: Tatjana Maria take on talented Frenchwoman: Kristina Mladenovic. Maria enters this match on a 6-match winning streak and fresh off a huge opening round upset victory over the 5th seeded Elina Svitolina. However, the German has never beaten Mladenovic before and has only made it past the second round of a Grand Slam on 1 prior occasion. Can the German continue her hot-streak?

Tatjana Maria started her 2018 Wimbledon campaign with the biggest win of her career, a 7-6 4-6 6-1 victory over Elina Svitolina. Maria’s eclectic game was too much for an out of sorts Svitolina to handle. The 30-year-old had the perfect preparation for Wimbledon after winning the first title of her career in Mallorca, defeating the likes of Anett Kontaveit, Carina Witthoeft, Lucie Safarova and Anastasija Sevastova on route to the title, an impressive set of results. It is fair to say the German is currently playing the best tennis of her career.

Kristina Mladenovic battled through a tough opening round match with Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, the Frenchwoman eventually proved to be a class above as she claimed a hard-fought 5-7 6-2 6-2 victory. Mladenovic’s recent form has not been great but it has been decent. There is less pressure on Mladenovic at the moment, her ranking now reflects her true standing and she doesn’t have the added stress of large chunks of points to defend.

Mladenovic has won the 2 previous encounters between the pair. A 6-4 6-3 win on clay in Charleston in 2016, more recently Mladenovic defeated the German 7-5 3-6 6-3 on a hard court in Washington last year. Wednesday’s meeting will be their first on a grass court, a surface that seemingly gives Maria her best chance at victory in this match-up.

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Ashleigh Barty vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Eastbourne R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne R2 Preview
🇦🇺 (8) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic

Ashleigh Barty and Kristina Mladenovic will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the second round stage of the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne on Tuesday. Barty heads into this match as a strong favourite but Mladenovic is a dangerous opponent when she gets her game together, can the Frenchwoman cause another early round upset in Eastbourne?

Kristina Mladenovic of France in action at the 2018 Nature Valley International WTA Premier tennis tournament

Ash Barty has displayed her grass court prowess over the last few weeks, a champion in Nottingham a few weeks ago but more recently the Aussie suffered an early round exit in Birmingham and will be keen to for a good week in Eastbourne. Barty beat the likes of Naomi Osaka and Johanna Konta on route to a second career title in Nottingham but was beaten by Julia Goerges in straight sets in Birmingham last week.

Kristina Mladenovic secured her spot in the second round in Eastbourne with an extremely hard-fought 6-7 7-5 6-3 victory over Heather Watson. The problem for the Frenchwoman in 2018 has been winning back to back matches, something she has only been able to achieve on 3 occasions, it will be tough ask to add to that tally against Barty.

This will be an interesting match-up, both have great skill and variety all around the court, this should be a good match to watch. Who will prevail?

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Kristina Mladenovic vs. Heather Watson, Eastbourne R1 Preview

Nature Valley International, Eastbourne R1 Preview
🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic vs. 🇬🇧 (wc) Heather Watson

Kristina Mladenovic and Heather Watson will renew hostilities when they meet at the opening round stage of the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne. The pressure is on Watson this week, the Brit is defending semi-finalist points after a great run to the final 4 last year. Ranked just inside the top 100, Watson’s ranking will slip dramatically with an early round loss this week.

Heather Watson of Great Britain in action at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Mladenovic started her grass court campaign in Birmingham last week where she suffered a second round exit. The Frenchwoman did have a good opening round win in Birmingham, coming from a set down to beat Katerina Siniakova but was beaten by Magdalena Rybarikova from a set up in the second round. Mladenovic has had decent results on grass over the last few seasons, she certainly has the skills to play well on this surface.

Watson is already playing in her fourth event of the grass court swing having started at an ITF event a month ago. It has been a poor year for Watson and that hasn’t changed over the last few weeks. Watson arrives in Eastbourne fresh off a disappointing first round loss at the hands of Lesia Tsurenko in Birmingham. Grass is Watson’s best surface but she has yet prove that in her recent performances.

Mladenovic holds a 4-2 head-to-head record over Watson. The most recent match between the pair took place in Acapulco last year, a 7-6 6-7 7-5 win for Mladenovic in what was a very messy match. Mladenovic has won the last 3 matches between the pair but this will be their first meeting on grass, a surface that gives Watson a better chance in this match-up.

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Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Birmingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham R2 Preview
🇸🇰 Magdalena Rybarikova vs. 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic

Magdalena Rybarikova and Kristina Mladenovic will renew hostilities when they meet at the second round stage in Birmingham on Wednesday. Rybarikova has won both of the previous meetings between the pair and has a brilliant recent record on grass, can Mladenovic raise her level to pull off an upset?

Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia in action at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Magdalena Rybarikova claimed the first big upset victory of the tournament as she defeated the 3rd seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-2 6-3 in their opening round encounter. It was a near-flawless performance from Rybarikova who bamboozled Pliskova with her touch and court craft. The Slovakian made it all the way to the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year, it is important that Rybarikova finds some kind of form over the next few weeks before heading to SW19 to defend a huge chunk of points.

Kristina Mladenovic secured her spot in the second round in Birmingham with a gutsy first round victory, a 1-6 6-2 6-4 victory over Katerina Siniakova. After a dreadful opening set it looked like Mladenovic was on track for yet another commanding loss but she recovered admirably to beat a fading Siniakova. Mladenovic’s efficiency at the net was a the standout feature of her performance.

Rybarikova has a 2-0 H2H record over Mladenovic. Both of their previous matches went deep into a third set, their only recent match was in Zhuhai last year, Rybarikova claimed a 7-5 1-6 7-6 victory.

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Maria Sharapova vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Madrid R3 Preview

Mutua Madrid Open, R3 Preview
🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova vs. 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic

Maria Sharapova and Kristina Mladenovic will renew hostilities when they meet at the third round stage of the Mutua Madrid Open. This is a big of grudge match, Mladenovic was one of the most vocal players in opposing Sharapova’s apparent lenient treatment and welcoming return to the tour after a doping suspension. The pair played out a tense match in Stuttgart last year in Sharapova’s return tournament and it was Mladenovic who came from a set down to win, can Sharapova get revenge in Madrid?

Maria Sharapova of Russia in action at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open

Maria Sharapova has advanced to the third round in Madrid without dropping a set. Sharapova claimed back-to-back wins over Romanian’s. beating Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-4 6-1 and Irina-Camelia Begu 7-5 6-1. Sharapova’s wins were fairly similar, a tough opening set where the former Madrid champion seemingly broke the spirit of her opponents before running away with the match. Sharapova is playing some of the better tennis we have seen from her in 2018 across her first few matches this week, incredibly she won 19 straight points during the second set of her win over Begu.

Kristina Mladenovic has won back-to-back matches for the first time since Acapulco over 2 months ago. Mladenovic has good memories in Madrid having reached the final last year where she just fell short in an epic 3 set match against Simona Halep. Mladenovic is under pressure to defend those finalist points this year as she would like to remain in the top 30 and be seeded for Roland Garros which is just around the corner. Mladenovic started her 2018 Madrid campaign with a 7-5 6-0 win over CoCo Vandeweghe before beating Shuai Zhang 6-4 4-6 6-3.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. The pair first met at Wimbledon way back in 2013 where Sharapova won in 2 tight sets, more recently it was Mladenovic who won 3-6 7-5 6-4 in Stuttgart last year.

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Kristina Mladenovic vs Qiang Wang, Indian Wells R3 Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells R3 Preview
🇫🇷 (14) Kristina Mladenovic vs. 🇨🇳 Qiang Wang

An interesting third round clash from the Californian desert sees the 14th seeded Kristina Mladenovic take on China’s Qiang Wang at the BNP Paribas Open. Wang has proven to be a very troublesome opponent for Mladenovic, Wang thrashed Mladenovic 6-0 6-0 in Tokyo last year in what was probably the low point in Mladenovic’s career. The Frenchwoman has turned her fortunes around of late, the 2017 Indian Wells semi-finalist will head into this match with a point to prove.

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Mladenovic’s slump seems to be behind her. Mladenovic has had some good results of late, including a run to the final in St. Petersburg and more recently a quarter-final showing in Acapulco. Mladenovic received bye through the opening round in Indian Wells before confirming her spot in the third round with a 7-5 7-5 win over Sam Stosur. It was a gutsy win for Mladenovic, especially her effort in the second set given she faced break points to go 1-5 down before recovering to close out the match in straight sets.

Qiang Wang booked her place in the third round at the BNP Paribas Open courtesy of a couple of hard-fought 3 set victories. Wang started the week with a topsy-turvy 6-0 4-6 6-2 win over Timea Bacsinszky before coming from a set down to upset the 22nd seeded Elise Mertens 4-6 6-3 6-3. Wang’s win over Mertens was her best win of the season thus far, a confidence boosting win for the 26-year-old.

Wang has won both of the previous matches between the pair, both in straight sets, both on a hard court in 2017. A 6-1 6-4 win in Dubai and a 6-0 6-0 win in Tokyo.

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Kristina Mladenovic vs Samantha Stosur, Indian Wells R2 Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells R2 Preview
🇫🇷 (14) Kristina Mladenovic vs. 🇦🇺 Samantha Stosur

The 14th seeded Kristina Mladenovic will begin her 2018 BNP Paribas Open campaign with a difficult second round clash against Australia’s Samantha Stosur. Mladenovic went on a big run to the semi-finals at this event 12 months ago, as a result she has a significant chunk of points to defend over the next fortnight, the pressure is on the Frenchwoman. Adding to the pressure is the fact that Stosur has a 4-0 H2H record over Mladenovic, will Stosur maintain her unbeaten record against Mladenovic?

Mladenovic has managed to gain some kind of momentum over the last month. The 24-year-old ignited her season with a run to the final in St. Petersburg before heroically guiding France into the Fed Cup semi-finals. Mladenovic arrives in Indian Wells fresh off a quarter-final showing in Acapulco. However there have been some poor losses of late, including a miserable loss to Lesia Tsurenko at the quarter-final stage in Acapulco last week. This second round clash in Indian Wells looms as a critical moment in the season for Mladenovic, a win would be huge, a loss would be another blow to her confidence.

Sam Stosur booked her spot in the second round at the BNP Paribas Open with a 3-6 6-3 6-3 victory over Lauren Davis, the win extended Stosur’s unbeaten record against Davis to 4-0. Stosur has managed to build some momentum over the last month, Stosur won 3 consecutive matches for the first time in a while as she successfully came through the qualifying draw in Dubai a few weeks ago. The surface in Indian Wells is certainly favourable for Stosur as she gets plenty of time to run around and hit her forehand more often than not.

Stosur holds an unbeaten 4-0 record over Mladenovic, a 2-0 record on hard courts. The most recent match between the pair took place in Washington in 2015, Stosur won that match 6-2 6-2. Clearly this is a favourable match-up for Stosur.

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Kristina Mladenovic vs Lesia Tsurenko, Acapulco QF Preview

Abierto Mexicano TELCEL, 🇲🇽🌴 Acapulco QF Preview
🇫🇷 (2) Kristina Mladenovic vs. 🇺🇦 (7) Lesia Tsurenko

Kristina Mladenovic and Lesia Tsurenko will meet at the quarter-final stage of the 2018 Abierto Mexicano in a rematch of last year’s final. It was Tsurenko who got the better of Mladenovic in last year’s final, a fairly convincing straight set win for the Ukrainian. A resurgent Mladenovic will be eager for revenge heading into this match but the Frenchwoman has a poor 1-5 win/loss record against Tsurenko and will need to be at her best to get over the line.

Mladenovic’s terrible form slump seems to be well and truly behind her. The Frenchwoman is certainly playing with a renewed confidence but has still shown signs of vulnerability. The 2nd seed started the week with a commanding straight set win over Amandine Hesse before fighting from a set down to defeat Beatriz Haddad Maia 3-6 6-3 7-5. Mladenovic did well to eventually get over the line against the spirited Brazilian, especially after squandering 3 match points whilst serving for the match at 5-4. Mladenovic played with good variety and was smarter with her shot selection.

Lesia Tsurenko has been untroubled in her first couple of matches in Acapulco. The defending champion kicked off her 2018 Abierto Mexicano campaign with a 6-4 6-1 win over Lauren Davis before cruising past Arina Rodionova 6-3 6-1. Tsurenko will be relieved to have comfortably come through her first few matches this week and can now play with less pressure as she enters the business end of the week.

This has proven to be a good matchup for Tsurenko. It is the Ukrainian who holds a 5-1 record over Mladenovic and has won their two most recent matches in straight sets. A 7-5 6-1 win in last year’s Acapulco final and a 6-3 6-1 win in s-Hertogenbosch a few months later. Tsurenko’s consistency has exposed the weaknesses in the Mladenovic game.

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