Kristina Mladenovic went up against Lesia Tsurenko in the first round match in Dubai. Not much separates the two as they are ranked just four places apart. Mladenovic looking to overturn the 0-3 head-to-head record against the Ukrainian with the last loss dating all the way back to 2012. Tsurenko was itching to get her first win for the year after losing out in first rounds in both tournaments she has entered. But it was Mladenovic who got the job done, barely breaking a sweat in the first set, before overcoming resistance from Tsurenko in the second, to close out the match in straight sets.
Mladenovic Cruises Through The First Set
It was a set of clinical tennis from the Frenchwoman. Mladenovic barely put a wrong foot while errors came off Tsurenko's racket. Mladenovic drew first blood getting the first break in the second game as Tsurenko hit a double fault. Mladenovic does some damage with her forehand as she gets to a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Tsurenko did well to get on board and the next few games they each held serve. With the score at 5-2, pressure was on Tsurenko to hold. The Ukrainian however succumbed to the pressure, hitting a couple of double faults and handed the game and set to Mladenovic, who had yet to face any break points.
Mladenovic Falters But Eventually Comes Through
It was a similar start as the first set as Mladenovic once again got the break in the second game with a wonderful backhand return winner. The Frenchwoman was mixing things around, adding in slices and her favorite drop shots. But it was a failed drop shot attempt that handed the break right back to the Ukrainian. Mladenovic came firing back breaking one more time with an angled forehand return winner to go up 3-1.
Both players successfully held their serves in the next two games. However, service games were in trouble again, this time for Mladenovic who lost in a baseline rally to warrant two break point opportunities to Tsurenko. As the Frenchwoman saved both, Tsurenko relentlessly created a couple more chances before breaking to reduce the deficit to 3-4.
Tsurenko however struggled to hold serve allowing the Frenchwoman to break once more with a wonderful slice. The set was on Mladenovic's racket but failed to close it out as Tsurenko did well to break once more for 4-5. As Tsurenko leveled the set at 5-5, pressure was back on Mladenovic who dug out a massive clutch of a hold to win the following game. The Ukrainian then held to bring the match to a tiebreak.
As tight as the second set was, the tiebreak was a one-sided affair. Tsurenko's two double faults were not helping matters as Mladenovic was able to finally close out the set and match 6-2, 7-6(1) in an hour and 30 minutes.
She meets the winner of the match between Karolina Pliskova and Coco Vandeweghe.
Both women won 56 percent of their first serves but it was Mladenovic who won more of her second serves, which made the difference, at 64 percent compared to Tsurenko's 30 percent.
The Frenchwoman was also more successful in converting her break opportunities breaking five times out of the eight she had. Tsurenko had more chances at 11 but only could break thrice.