Kristina Mladenovic will face Timea Bacsinszky for a place in the semi-finals of the 2017 French Open on Tuesday.
Mladenovic d. Muguruza, 6-1 3-6 6-3 (R4)
In a feisty encounter, Mladenovic, buoyed by the Suzanne Lenglen crowd, knocked out the defending champion. The Frenchwoman made a forceful start to the match with Muguruza starting slowly and making a couple of shocking misses up at the net. The Spaniard dug in during the second set and won key games at *1-0 and 3-1*. Despite producing 16 double faults, seven of which came early on in the deciding set, Mladenovic was a perfect 100% behind her lethal first serve and had continued joy at bringing an increasingly frustrated, Muguruza into the net with drop shots.
I’ve said it a few times before on the blog – Mladenovic was such a nervy closer of sets and matches. In 2017, she’s become one of the best and there was no obvious jitters at finishing off this fourth round clash which she did with her sixth break of the Muguruza serve.
Bacsinszky d. V.Williams, 5-7 6-2 6-1 (R4)
In a repeat fourth round clash from Roland Garros last year, Bacsinszky beat V.Williams again, this time in three sets. The Swiss player lost the first set despite making a fabulous start to the match, propelled by some gorgeous backhands, to lead 5-1. Williams cut out some of the errors and changed up her tactics, targeting Bacsinszky’s forehand. Add to that some errant ball tosses too and Bacsinszky’s game began to unravel with Venus winning five straight games in an impressive comeback.
Bacsinszky recovered well in the second set with smart tactics, taking the pace off the ball at times and managing to get more forehands in the court. Against an albeit tiring, Williams, Bacsinszky did well to get over the disappointment of missing set points in the opener and served out the second set to love. Bacsinszky carried the momentum into the decider where she went up 4-0 in the decider. It wasn’t the highest quality tennis of the day but Bacsinszky was smart and increasingly used moonballs and drop shots to mix up the play. A key stat in the decider – Bacsinszky saved all five break points she faced.
Head-to-head record: Bacsinszky and Mladenovic are tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head – I watched their first match live at Eastbourne last year where Mladenovic won in straights. You can read more about it HERE. In their most recent clash, Bacsinszky won in three sets in Fed Cup action. Of course there was a bit of drama in this match as Mladenovic questioned a Bacsinszky medical time-out.
Interesting stat(s): Bacsinszky loves Roland Garros and has reached her third consecutive quarter-final in Paris. It is the first time that she has won four matches at the same tournament since Roland Garros 2016! For Mladenovic, she’s at 31 match wins for the year and is into her second Slam quarter-final having previously reached the last eight at the US Open in 2015. This is still only the second time she has reached the second week of a Major.
Final thoughts: Love or loathe her, Mladenovic has done a remarkable job to reach the quarter-finals having looked on her way to the exit door several times in her first and third round matches against American opposition. Who knows if the back is still an issue, but adrenaline and crowd support is bringing her through. Bacsinszky’s game has come alive on the clay of Paris once more and while her performance level fluctuated against Williams, it was a resilient and smart display.
I don’t have too many concerns for Bacsinszky dealing with the crowd as she’s a tough cookie. I am more concerned how she will deal with Mladenovic’s game, despite having beaten the Frenchwoman earlier this year. Mladenovic has the bigger serve and can match Bacsinszky with variety. Breaking up the rhythm will be key for Bacsinszky.
I’m rooting for Timea all the way. I’ve said this before though during this tournament… heart says Timea, head says Kiki.