Match Preview: Kristina Mladenovic v Simona Halep

This will be the second match out on Stadium 3, but I really think it deserves Stadium 1, and it one of the most anticipated matches in tomorrow’s schedule. Both women came through their opening matches in straight sets but Mladenovic was forced to a tiebreaker in the second set of hers. Mladenovic had to overcome Annika Beck and Halep defeated Donna Vekic.

Recent Form

Mladenovic has played phenomenal tennis so far this year and she has already got some of the biggest results in her career. She won the Hopman Cup with Richard Gasquet at the start of the year and then after two first round exits in Hobart and Melbourne she went on to win her first ever WTA title in St. Petersburg. She was playing the best tennis of her career to date that week and she enjoyed wins over Venus Williams and Roberta Vinci. She lost in the third round of Dubai but then she reached the final of Acapulco last week. This has put her at number 9 in the Road to Singapore and it has bought her to a career high ranking of 23. Mladenovic has a  15-7 win-loss record so far this season which she should be very happy with. Halep has had a rough start to the year as she was suffering with a knee injury, which forced her to pull out of St. Petersburg and was probably was why she didn’t do so well at the AO. Halep fell in the second round of her first tournament of the year in Shenzhen and then she only won four games as she bowed out in the first round of the Australian Open. She pulled out of St. Petersburg after winning her opener and this is her first match since then. She has a 3-2 win-loss record for the season thus far, which will disappoint her.

Indian Wells Form

This is Mladenovic’s fifth appearance here in as many years and she has already surpassed her best result this year. Prior to 2017 her best result was reaching the second round in both 2016 and 2014. The other two years she had lost in the first round so that means she hasn’t played the best on these courts but she is playing the best tennis of her career at the moment so I don’t think she’s thinking about her previous results in the desert. Halep has played here every year since 2011 and her best result was when she was crowned champion in 2015. Her past three years here have been superb with a semifinal, a win and a quarterfinal so she knows how to play well here. Her worst results were two second round exits in 2011 and 2013 but I think she will be feeling the pressure to defend her quarterfinal points this week.

Head to Head Record

These two have come up against each there three times in their careers and Mladenovic has come out on top twice. There first meeting was on the hard courts of the Open GDF Suez tournament in Paris in 2014 and Mladenovic claimed that one 7-6(7-1), 6-4. This could be put down to Mladenovic having the home crowd behind her and it would have been one of the frenchwoman’s first WTA matches so she would have had a lot of adrenaline. Their second meeting was in 2015 on the grass courts of Birmingham and Mladenovic won that one 6-2, 0-6, 7-6(7-4). With such a tight final set this match could have gone to anyone and I don’t think they will be thinking about that one when it comes to analysing pas matches. There most recent match was in 2015 on the hard courts of Cincinnati and Halep took that one 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. This one was another tough one but I think that this is the one where they were both playing good tennis the whole match so it shows us Halep may be stronger in the longer matches.

My Prediction

I think that both players will go out really motivated to win and knowing they can win because of how they played their opening match. In the first set I think they might exchange one or two breaks of serve on the way to 5-5. From there I think there could be a really long deuce game that Mladenovic goes on to win despite Halep having opportunities. I think that Mladenvoic would win the next game comfortably and take the set 7-5. At the start of the second set I think Mladenovic might play a couple of sloppy games and that will give Halep an early break which she win hang onto until she serves out the 6-4 set. I think that Mladenovic will start the final set well and she might go up 4-2 or 5-2 but Halep will fight back and get level it at 5-5. From there I think that Mladenovic will take a game easily before having to fight for a long deuce game but she will eventually close it out 7-5, 4-6, 7-5.



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