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Mladenovic Shines Under California Sun, Shocks Wozniacki In Indian Wells

Kristina Mladenovic clinched a maiden Premier Mandatory semifinal and a Top 20 debut with a comeback win over former No.1 Caroline Wozniacki at the BNP Paribas Open.

Published March 16, 2017 12:15

Mladenovic Shines Under California Sun, Shocks Wozniacki In Indian Wells
Kristina Mladenovic

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - No.28 seed Kristina Mladenovic roared back from a set and a break down to defeat 2011 BNP Paribas Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2, to not only reach her first Premier Mandatory semifinal, but also gaurantee a Top 20 debut on next week's WTA rankings.

"It's been a lot of matches and, to be honest, it's like the longest kind of string of winning matches I had so far in my career," Mladenovic said in her post-match press conference.

"It feels great, but in the same time, every day I go out there on the court or in the gym practicing, it's for moment like that. So I'm not getting too excited. I'm just super satisfied that I am on that kind of stages right now and trying to use my chances and the my opportunities I have."

Mladenovic had never beaten Wozniacki in three previous encounters, but their most recent meeting last fall undoubtedly gave the surging Frenchwoman hope of pulling off the upset.

"Caroline is a top player, former World No. 1. She's also in very great shape; she had a very good start of the season, as well, and won lots of matches.

"That final in Hong Kong at the end of last year was very painful for me, very frustrating. I thought I was playing well that entire week and, in the final, I was just kind of exhausted and injured.

"Today I thought, 'Okay, today I'm feeling good.' When I woke up, nothing was hurting. I'm not injured. I was happy about that. I wanted to give a fight there and have no regrets."

The start of the match saw Mladenovic with plenty of opportunities, but after six games, the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy champion was down 1-5 and 0/7 on break point opportunities.

"I wanted to take my revenge, of course. It was not easy. Again, it was a tough battle and tough conditions. We played, yeah, two hours and a half. I didn't start the match well at all.

"I thought, when you lost three times against a player, it means that something is wrong and that you don't really like her game."

Edging closer in the first set, she recovered from an early break in the second to move ahead 5-3 before ultimately leveling the match in a tie-break.

"I felt like I needed adjustments. It's the first time for me playing on that huge stadium. I just stayed very positive and composed, because I was out there battling with myself first, because I wanted kind of too much.

"I was just fighting mentally to be close with her at the scoreboard, and eventually I got my chances. And I think I played really well the tie-break."

Mladenovic is in the midst of a career-best stretch of form, winning her first WTA title and reaching another final at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel, and only got better as the final set wore on, breaking twice to serve out the win in two hours and 33 minutes.

"I went for my game. I went for some variation. I think I played differently at some points, trying to use more the court to make her run, as well, because she was doing that pretty well to me.

"Something new I put today was the serve and volley on such important points. I impressed myself with that! Every time I would serve good on the backhand, she would go very deep and return well. I was, like, 'Okay, let's just be creative here.'

"It paid off, and it gave me a chance to fight a third set. I think the third set was the best of today from me."

Maintaining impressive stats, she struck 42 winners to 39 unforced errors, and won five of six break points in the final two sets.

"I felt pretty much in control there for a while, but sometimes it is what it is," Wozniacki said in press. "Maybe lost a little bit of concentration, let her back, and then she started playing better. It happens.

"I was trying to be very focused out there and just do my thing. I fought until the end, but it just wasn't enough today. You can always learn and I can do better.

"But, at the end of the day, I tried my hardest and that's all I can do."

Up next for the French No.1 will be No.14 seed Elena Vesnina, who held off an impressive fight from former World No.1 Venus Williams to win in three sets.

"I'm going to enjoy this win and try to recover, because two and half hours on court takes a lot out of me. I'm excited and no matter who I play, I'm sure it'll be a tough one, hopefully an exciting one with great tennis.

"I'm very happy, and hopefully I can continue."

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