WTA St. Petersburg: Kristina Mladenovic takes out defending champion Roberta Vinci in stunning fashion

WTA St. Petersburg: Kristina Mladenovic takes out defending champion Roberta Vinci in stunning fashion

The Frenchwoman continued her fine form defeating the defending champion in straight sets to set up a semifinal clash against wildcard Natalia Vikhlyantseva.

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Pavitra Ganesan

Sixth seed Roberta Vinci took to the court in the hopes of continuing her title defense against Kristina Mladenovic. In their only ever previous outing, Vinci came up on top in a grueling quarterfinal clash at the 2015 US Open. The Frenchwoman looking to overturn that defeat was quick off the blocks and grabbed the first set in impressive style. Vinci could play more of her game in the second but Mladenovic kept up her level to beat the Italian 6-1, 6-4.

Sensational start by the Frenchwoman

Mladenovic seemed to pick up where she left off yesterday, getting an early break by putting pressure on the Vinci serve to go 3-0 up. The Frenchwoman was working the court well and mixing it up with slices and drop shots to great effect. The Italian with an unforced error in the fourth game then handed Mladenovic to get the double break cushion. And the Frenchwoman absolutely buried a forehand winner to lead 4-0.

Vinci goes down a double break | Photo: Mike Kireev/NurPhotos via Getty Images
Vinci goes down a double break | Photo: Mike Kireev/NurPhotos via Getty Images

Vinci got herself a lifeline when she managed to benefit from a relatively poor service game from Mladenovic. Despite having game point for 5-0, an unforced error brought it to deuce before the Italian hammered a huge return to set up break point which she converted to get one of the breaks for 1-4. However, it only lasted for awhile as Mladenovic came out swinging again and Vinci’s errors did not help her cause allowing the Frenchwoman to break once more for 5-1. The defending champion tried to put pressure on the Mladenovic serve and forced her to deuce but the Frenchwoman hung on to close out the first set in 28 minutes.

Mladenovic serves her way to take the first set | Photo: Mike Kireev/NurPhotos via Getty Images
Mladenovic serves her way to take the first set | Photo: Mike Kireev/NurPhotos via Getty Images

Mladenovic comes up tops in a tight set

The first three games saw break chances for both players but neither was able to capitalize on the opportunities and they held their service games. Both women were also working the court well and were able to hold serve with ease as the match progressed.

Just when it looked like it may lead to a tiebreak, Mladenovic stepped it up a notch playing her aggressive game and blasted a forehand winner to set up a couple of break points. Vinci saved one of it but ended up sending a double fault to give away the crucial break to the Frenchwoman.

Mladenovic gets the late crucial break | Photo: Mike Kireev/NurPhotos via Getty Images
Mladenovic gets the late crucial break | Photo: Mike Kireev/NurPhotos via Getty Images

Serving for the match at 5-4, Mladenovic did not have it easy at all. The Italian sensing the nerves applied pressure on her serve and earned triple break back points after a delightful touch at the net. Mladenovic however, was not fazed. Despite struggling to find her rhythm on serve, the Frenchwoman remain composed and fired her way back to deuce. She missed the first match point on a double fault and was forced to save another break point before sealing the match on her third opportunity with a superb passing shot to advance to the semifinals.

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