Kristina Mladenovic led the head-to-head between the two win two wins, both coming last year. However, Barbora Strycova was the in-form player, having reached the finals in Dubai a couple of days ago.
Despite late resistance from the Frenchwoman, Strycova eventually took the first set. A late fight back from Mladenovic was snuffed out as the Czech barely put a foot wrong to cruise to a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 victory, setting up a second round clash with fellow country woman Petra Kvitova.
Strycova Off To A Flyer; Fights Off Late Resistance To Take The First Set
It was all Strycova early in the first set as she broke Mladenovic twice to race to a 5-0 lead in the first set to serve for the set. The Frenchwoman was not doing enough with her serves and she paid for it. Just when the set looked to be done and dusted, the Frenchwoman gets one break back with some great winners as Strycova was serving for the set.
Mladenovic would go on to win two more games to stop the rot and reduce the deficit to 3-5, and a comeback looked imminent. However, when it was her turn to hold serve, the Frenchwoman cracked under the pressure and Strycova sealed the set with a wonderful forehand winner.
Mladenovic Fights Back But Falls At The Final Hurdle
Like in the first set, Strycova got an early break and seemed to be in control at 3-0. The Frenchwoman finally improved her serves slightly to get herself on board. Mladenovic then turned into the aggressor but she just could not find a way as the Czech held her off time and again with her good defensive play.
As they held their service games until 4-2, Mladenovic eventually got an opportunity to break her opponent. Strycova seemed to have lost her rhythm for a while as she handed three break points to the Frenchwoman. The Czech saved all three before Mladenovc set up another break opportunity with a fine backhand pass. This time, she grabbed the break as Strycova sent her forehand wide. Mladenovic then went on to hold her own service game to level the set at 4-4.
With Strycova edging in front to 5-4, Mladenovic once again succumbed to pressure. She netted a backhand to present the Czech with match point. Strycova needed no second invitation as she went on to the seal the set and match in 70 minutes.
Strycova led the first serves department with 77 percent of first serves in while Mladenovic only managed to get in 58 percent of her serves. The Czech player also won 71 percent of her first serves as Mladenovic struggled winning just 43 percent of them.
Strycova was 100 percent efficient as she converted all six break opportunities she had to get herself a comfortable victory. The Frenchwoman on the other hand, only capitalised on three of the seven chances she had.