Seventh seed Kristina Mladenovic went up against qualifier Elise Mertens in the first round at the Hobart International. The pair had met previously and it was the higher ranked Mladenovic who came through in straight sets. Mertens came into the match riding on momentum having gotten through the qualifying rounds without dropping a set. Mladenovic, on the other hand, was competing in her first competitive match of the year after leading her country to Hopman Cup victory.
However, it was a disastrous start by the Frenchwoman who barely got her game going failing to hold serve as Mertens cruised to take the first set. The seventh seed tried to get back into the match but it was all falling apart for her. Mertens was solid throughout and in just under an hour wrapped up a 6-1, 6-2 victory to progress into the second round.
Rocky start from Mladenovic allows Mertens to cruise
The Belgian started the match strongly. Mladenovic had game points to get on board but those quickly evaporated as Mertens on the backfoot turned it quickly into the offense and set up break point which she converted to gain an immediate lead on the Frenchwoman. However, a double fault from the Belgian handed Mladenovic the chance to break right back. She broke back but still looked unsettled and handed the favor back to the Belgian. Mertens fired a sizzling return winner to break to love for a 3-1 lead.
The series of breaks eventually came to an end though as the Belgian consolidated the break for a comfortable 4-1 lead. Errors were flying from the Frenchwoman’s racket thick and fast and Mertens took advantage to open up a further 5-1 lead. Mladenovic struggled to handle the deep balls that were coming at her and Mertens raced to grab the first set 6-1 in just 24 minutes.
Mertens takes advantage of errors from Mladenovic
Mladenovic’s woes continued in the second set yet to hold her serve as Mertens got the better of her yet again for an immediate break. The Frenchwoman hit a couple of good returns to try and get back into the match but the Belgian stood up to it saving a couple of break points before consolidating for 2-0. The Frenchwoman though finally held serve for the first time in the match with a love hold to keep herself in the set.
Mertens who had been holding serve with ease looked to be in a bit of trouble in the sixth game but managed to hang on to her lead for 4-2. It was however followed by a poor game from Mladenovic whose shots were all over the place handing another break to the Belgian. Serving for the match at 5-2, Mertens was composed firing winners to complete the upset in just 55 minutes.