Simona Halep vs Kristina Mladenovic, Indian Wells R3 Preview

BNP Paribas Open, ??? Indian Wells, R3 Match Preview
(4) ?? Simona Halep vs (28) ?? Kristina Mladenovic

An intriguing third round encounter at the BNP Paribas Open sees Simona Halep come up against Kristina Mladenovic. Interestingly, Mladenovic has won two of their three previous encounters and comes into this match in good form so she will be confident of another victory over the Romanian. Halep will be looking to get her season on track over the next few weeks having only won one match heading into the event. Halep is a former champion at the BNP Paribas Open, the conditions seem to suit her perfectly. Making for an exciting contest.

Simona Halep has yet to get going in 2017 after the injury derailed her Australian summer and saw her miss the Middle Eastern swing. Halep made a decent return to the court at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday with a 6-4 6-1 win over Donna Vekic. Halep will receive a much greater test on Monday when she comes up against Kristina Mladenovic, an opponent that has troubled her in the past.

Kristina Mladenovic started the year off terribly but has had some of the best weeks of her career in recent times. The Frenchwoman won her first career title in St. Petersburg last month and also reached the final in Acapulco last week. Mladenovic made a good start to her BNP Paribas Open campaign with a 6-0 7-5 win over Annika Beck. Mladenovic is clearly quite confident in her game at the moment.

Mladenovic holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Halep, however it was the Romanian who won their most recent match. Halep claimed an extremely hard-fought 7-5 5-7 6-4 win over Mladenovic in Cincinnati in 2015. Mladenovic beat Halep in a third set tiebreak on grass in Birmingham a few months earlier and a straight set win indoors in Paris in 2014.

The contrast in styles between these two has made for close encounters. Mladenovic has the bigger game but Halep is obviously a better mover and defender and is more consistent from the baseline. Mladenovic will have more behind her serve and the ability to finish points at the net. The slower surface at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden should suit Halep in this match-up, Halep has enjoyed these conditions in the past whist Mladenovic has not. I suspect a determined Halep will be too solid on this occasion.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Kristina Mladenovic in 2 sets

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