Kristina Mladenovic took on Kateryna Bondarenko in the first round at the Western and Southern Open. In their first ever meeting, it was Mladenovic who had the advantage in the first set. However, she could not serve it out and had to save set points before forcing a first set tiebreak. She breezed through the tiebreak before rain stopped the action in the second game of the second set. The match resumed the next day and it was the Frenchwoman who found a late break to eventually close out the victory.
Mladenovic saves four set points before taking the set in a tiebreak
The Frenchwoman was off to a bright start finding an early break and consolidating for a 2-0 lead. Bondarenko leveled soon after with a break of her own for 2-2. Mladenovic, however, regained the lead with another break of serve for a 3-2 lead before rain forced the match to be suspended.
At the resumption, both women held their serves. Bondarenko threatened to break back in the eighth game but Mladenovic hung on for 5-3. She held her grip on the lead but could not serve out the match as the Ukrainian eventually got the break back to level 5-5. Bondarenko had opportunities to then seal the set herself but Mladenovic was fighting hard and fended off four set points under pressure to force a tiebreak.
In the tiebreak, the Frenchwoman came to live with some explosive tennis and reeled off seven straight points to take the first set in emphatic fashion.
Rain suspends play before Mladenovic finds the breakthrough
The rain came to interrupt play again and the match was postponed to the next day with Bondarenko serving in the second game. Serving to level for 1-1, Bondarenko was in immediate danger of going down an immediate break. However, Mladenovic could not capitalize and the Ukrainian survived to hold for 1-1. In the fourth game, the Frenchwoman made her move again setting up break point with a forehand down the line winner. Bondarenko was up to the task though dispatching a short ball away to save the point.
The match was starting to open up as a failed drop shot attempt provided the Ukrainian with a chance to take the lead. This time, her serve came to her aid as Mladenovic got out of trouble and edged ahead 3-2 on serve.
The next two games went by without fuss before the Frenchwoman put pressure on Bondarenko’s serve in the eighth game. The pressure paid off eventually as Mladenovic converted her third break point of the game to extend her lead to 5-3. And this time, there was no drama like in the first set, as Mladenovic wrapped up the victory 7-6(1), 6-3.