Wildcard Nicole Gibbs went up against Kristina Mladenovic at the Miami Open on Friday. The last time the pair met was at the recent Australian Open, and it was the Frenchwoman who got the win in straight sets.
The results were reversed on Friday however, as Gibbs put up a strong performance to defeat Mladenovic in straight sets. The first set was all about the American as the Frenchwoman struggled with her serve. Gibbs was just too solid throughout and was able to capitalize on her opportunities to sink the 27th seed 6-2, 6-4.
Gibbs Capitalizes On Misfiring Mladenovic
It was a shaky start from Mladenovic, who despite not getting in any of her first serves in the first game, held to start the match. Gibbs started off the more composed of the two, holding her first game with relative ease.
Trouble started to brew for the Frenchwoman in the third game, giving away points cheaply and gifting break point as the ball came to into contact with the frame of her racket. Her serve came to her rescue, but not before Gibbs carved out another break point opportunity. This time Mladenovic could only help an angled shot from the American into the net as Gibbs went up 2-1.
As Gibbs consolidated the break with a service hold, the Frenchwoman’s serve was under fire again and she overcooked her backhand to hand the double break to the American. Gibbs was comfortably in the driver’s seat and raced to a 5-1 lead. Mladenovic was making a number of errors and was made to work hard to hold her serve, trailing 2-5. The American though remain untroubled as she wrapped the first set 6-2 in 31 minutes.
Gibbs Gets An Early Break To Overcome Mladenovic
Troubles with serves continued for the Frenchwoman at the start of the second set. A double fault gifted break point to the American and Mladenovic once again found the net to go down an early break. The Frenchwoman looked to make inroads immediately as Gibbs hit a couple of errors. Mladenovic though was going for too much and was finding the net more often as a result, allowing the wildcard to eventually hold for 2-0.
Mladenovic continued over hitting a lot of balls over the baseline. Gibbs was reading her slower second serves much better in the set, stepping in to take them on and reaping the benefits. The Frenchwoman though hung on for 1-2 as the next two games continued on serve.
It took until the sixth game of the second set before Mladenovic got her first break point, running forward just in time to put back an angled pick up. It was her best point of the match and she should have capitalized on the chance. The Frenchwoman was in full control of the point being the aggressor, but Gibbs was able to defend every ball put back at her, eventually finding the winner to save the break point. The American remained calm under pressure to maintain her lead for 4-2.
The chance that went begging seemed to play on the Frenchwoman’s mind as she hit a wild forehand to present Gibbs with the chance to go two breaks up. Mladenovic came up with an excellent drop shot to deny the American and to keep herself within touching distance for 3-4. It proved to be an important hold as it prompted the Frenchwoman to up her aggressiveness. Gibbs stood firm resisting the Frenchwoman’s efforts for 5-3.
Serving to stay in the match, Mladenovic came up with the worse possible start hitting two double faults in succession. She shrugged it off coming with another couple of good shots before closing the game to force Gibbs to serve out the set. The American was steady as ever as Mladenovic could do nothing to prevent the straight sets victory.
Winning Numbers For Gibbs
Gibbs was solid with her serving putting in 67 percent of her first serves. For Mladenovic, for whom her serves is one of her weapon, was only getting in 49 percent of them in. The five double faults by the Frenchwoman costed her a lot more than Gibbs’ one.
The American was also creating break opportunities and able to capitalize on them three times. While, Mladenovic only had the one shot in the entire match which she failed to convert.