Kristina Mladenovic was pitted against Yanina Wickmayer in the first round at Eastbourne. Both players have a win over each other and were both looking to do one better as the warm up for Wimbledon takes one last charge.
It was the Belgian who started brightly but with both players faltering it went to a tiebreak which the Frenchwoman narrowly edged. Mladenovic rode the momentum to gain an early lead in the second set. Wickmayer fought back but the Frenchwoman broke once more towards the end to seal a 7-6(6), 6-4 straight sets victory.
Topsy-turvy set edged by Mladenovic in a tiebreak
Wickmayer got off to a bright start capitalizing on a sluggish start by the Frenchwoman to break and lead 2-0. Mladenovic did get on the scoreboard for 1-2 and had to fight off three break point to hang on for 2-3 with the Belgian holding serve comfortably.
The first real stutter from Wickmayer came in the sixth game with a double fault gifting Mladenovic with a couple of break point. The Frenchwoman was finding her groove now as she found the break back on her second chance to level for 3-3. Mladenovic then went ahead for the first time, holding her service game for 4-3. She then found the vital break, winning the fourth game in a row for 5-3 to serve for the set. However, the Frenchwoman faltered under pressure and Wickmayer broke to love.
The Belgian kept herself in the set saving two set points that she faced as she leveled for 5-5. Mladenovic was still struggling with her serves, having to fend off a break point as she hung on to lead 6-5. On the other hand, Wickmayer held her game to love to bring the set to a tiebreak.
Mladenovic got the first mini-break to lead 2-0 in the tiebreak. As she was serving at 3-1, Wickmayer found the break back for 2-3 before surging ahead for 4-3. It was getting tight as both women continued keeping serve and as a result Wickmayer had her first set point at 6-5 on the Mladenovic serve. The Frenchwoman was cool under pressure to fend off and get set point for herself at 7-6. Wickmayer however, could not follow suit as Mladenovic closed out the first set with a winner for 7-6(6) in a little over an hour.
Mladenovic comes through
It looked like that first set win had swung the tide towards to the Frenchwoman who pushed the Belgian and got an immediate break in the second set. After that long opening game, it was Wickmayer who pushed Mladenovic in another long game. The Frenchwoman did not give in, fighting off three break points to consolidate the break for 2-0.
Both women considerably tightened up their serves as no break points were faced in the next few games with the Belgian keeping touch with the Frenchwoman. In a mammoth sixth game, Mladenovic faced trouble on serve hitting a couple of double faults and handed Wickmayer multiple chances to find the break back. And on her fourth opportunity, the Belgian eventually broke down the Frenchwoman’s defense to level for 3-3.
Mladenovic once again got the better of Wickmayer to find another break in the eighth game for 5-3. This time, there was no repeat of the first set and after almost two hours, Mladenovic had for herself set point and went on to seal a straight sets victory.