WTA Charleston: Mirjana Lucic-Baroni Grinds Out Win Over Kristina Mladenovic In Topsy Turvy Battle

The second round match in Charleston saw Mirjana Lucic-Baroni pitted against 11th seed, Kristina Mladenovic. It turned out to be a lengthy battle as neither player was in a commanding position for long. It was the 11th seed who took the first set. The second set was a ‘break-fest’ which Lucic-Baroni eventually grabbed to force a third set. The match considerably tightened towards the end which led to a tiebreak. Mladenovic had four match points but was unable to capitalize as Lucic-Baroni finally closed out the victory on her seventh match point. 

Mladenovic Edges To Take The First Set

The match began with an exchange of breaks for 1-1. Mladenovic kept knocking on the doors on Lucic-Baroni’s serve in the third game but was denied all four times as the Croat held for 2-1. As the players settled into their rhythm holding their serves, Mladenovic faced break point in the sixth game. This time Lucic-Baronic got the better of the Frenchwoman breaking to take the lead for 4-2. That lead however turned out to be just momentary as Mladenovic broke back immediately to keep the match on serve.

Levelling the set 4-4, the Frenchwoman once again got a look in on the Croat’s serve earning herself triple break points. Lucic-Baroni battled hard but it was not enough as she succumbed at the third point to hand Mladenovic with a break at a critical time. The Frenchwoman then comfortably served out the set for 6-4.

Mladenovic takes the first set | Photo: Christopher Levy
Mladenovic takes the first set | Photo: Christopher Levy

Both Players Struggle With Holding Serves

The level of both players considerably dropped as they struggled to hold their own service games. Errors were flying from both women as the set saw four successive breaks before Lucic-Baroni held to love for the first time for 3-2. That turned out to be the only service hold in the entire set. Serving to stay in the set at 4-5, Mladenovic inevitably got broken as the Croatian sealed an error-strewn set to bring the match to a deciding set.

Tight Third Set Sees Nine Match Points Shared Between The Two

The string of breaks came to an end as Lucic-Baroni held to start the third set. Mladenovic though, continued to struggle and was broken yet again allowing the Croat to take a 2-0 lead. It looked like the second set was happening all over again as another break of serve followed. Mladenovic then fought hard to hang on hold her service game, for the first time since the first set, levelling the set 2-2.

Neither player was troubled much as they seemed to have found a way to hold their games. The set went by without many hiccups and was looking like it was heading for the dreaded tiebreak. Serving for 6-5, Lucic-Baroni had to dig deep as the Frenchwoman almost made the crucial breakthrough. The Croat fended off all three break points that came her way to put the pressure on Mladenovic. The Frenchwoman looked poised to take the match to a tiebreak at 40-15 but pressure seemed to have gotten to her. On the verge of defeat, Mladenovic somehow came up with some gutsy shots to survive two match points to eventually bring the set to a tiebreak.

Mladenovic saves two match points to bring it to a tiebreak | Photo: Christopher Levy
Mladenovic saves two match points to bring it to a tiebreak | Photo: Christopher Levy

The Frenchwoman got her first match point on her own serve but the Croat came up with a stunning winner to save it. Mladenovic had for herself another two chances but was unable to capitalize. Lucic-Baronic then had her opportunity on Mladenovic’s serve. The Frenchwoman saved it bravely before giving away another match point. Mladenovic hammered a forehand winner of her own to save it. The Croat could have closed out the tiebreak on her own serve at 10-9 but squandered the chance. The tiebreak continued and it looked like nerves were dictating the match as neither player could take it as three more chances went begging. Finally, Lucic-Baroni sealed victory on her serve in an eighteen-point tiebreak winning the match 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (13) after two hours and 44 minutes.

Lucic-Baroni's reacts after the win | Photo: Christopher Levy
Lucic-Baroni reacts after the win | Photo: Christopher Levy

Match Statistics

It was a poor showing by both service wise as Lucic-Baroni hit 15 double faults while Mladenovic threw in seven of her own. They struggled on first serves as the Croat won about 64 percent of her first serves compared to the Frenchwoman who only managed to win 54 percent of hers.

It was break opportunities galore with Lucic-Baroni getting 16 chances to break and capitalized half of the time. Mladenovic on the other hand had a staggering 23 break points but converted just eight times.

A long match which also saw 233 points played out between the two players. The Croatian just edging it with 118 points while Mladenovic won 115 of them.