Eighth seed Daria Gavrilova took on France’s Kristina Mladenovic for a spot in the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open. With both women yet to win a WTA title in their respective careers, it was a good chance for either of them to seize the opportunity. It was the unseeded Frenchwoman who found the edge to take a tight first set. Mladenovic had the lead in the second set but gave it away as Gavrilova fought back to try and force a third set. However, a late break and nail-biting service game from the Frenchwoman saw her close out the match 7-5, 6-3 for her third WTA final.
Exchange of breaks before Mladenovic seizes the set
Mladenovic who served to start the match immediately found herself broken after a poor service game. However, the Frenchwoman bounced back right away to level the set 1-1 and subsequently held her serve for 2-1. Gavrilova who had a 30-0 lead then squandered it away with cheap double faults and allowing Mladenovic to conjure up break point. The Frenchwoman should have put it away with an easy volley at the net but she then had another chance after a sublime volley before capitalizing for a 3-1 lead.
The match was starting to look like the server was having more problems as the Aussie fought back to break Mladenovic’s serve once again. The breaks continued after a dismal double fault from Gavrilova ended with the Frenchwoman applying a forehand down the line finish to build a 4-2 advantage. Again, Mladenovic failed to consolidate the break managing to save just one break point before succumbing with an unfortunate double fault. And Gavrilova wiped away the lead eventually holding her serve with a love hold to tie 4-4.
A comfortable hold then allowed the Frenchwoman to nose ahead forcing the Aussie to serve to stay in the set. She nearly faltered though as Mladenovic earn her chance to take the set with some aggressive display. Gavrilova replied with a second serve ace to get herself out of trouble and level for 5-5. The Frenchwoman piling on the pressure set up another set point on the Aussie's serve and this time found the line with her massive forehand to seal the first set 7-5 right on the hour mark.
Composed Mladenovic fends off Gavrilova to seal the win
Mladenovic started the second set strong firing winners to hold serve. Gavrilova looked to have found her groove hitting shots with more depth. That, however, did not last long as she followed up with a shaky fourth game gifting break point to the Frenchwoman. The Aussie defended well but could not hang on eventually going down a break to trail 1-3.
Gavrilova, however, responded back with some of her best attacking tennis to come back for 2-3. The Australian gave it all she had fending off break points to tie 3-3. Despite that Mladenovic seemed in control and aAn aggressive return in the eighth game gave Mladenovic an initiative to take the lead once more. And she did just that despite Gavrilova fighting hard to take an important 5-3 lead.
The Australian had a chance to keep herself in the match with the Frenchwoman serving for the match but another forehand strike from Mladenovic saved the break point. It turned out to be a tense finish to the end though as the Frenchwoman was forced to save four points before eventually converting her fourth match point in a game that stretched past the 11-minute mark to complete the victory.