‘S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands - Last year’s Ricoh Open finalist Kristina Mladenovic made a victorious return to ‘s-Hertogenbosch, moving past Risa Ozaki in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1.
“I knew that my first match on grass was going to be difficult and tricky,” Mladenovic said in her on-court interview afterwards. “We played for many weeks on clay court and this is totally different, so you need to get into the rhythm.
“Today I had an opponent that I didn’t know a lot about, so the first set was very up and down from my side. I’m extremely happy to win this match in two sets.”
Fresh from her run to the French Open quarterfinals, Mladenovic arrived in the Netherlands on Saturday ready to make the transition from clay to grass in preparation for Wimbledon.
But she struggled at the beginning against the Japanese player, bringing up a handful of break opportunities but failing to convert, and falling behind in her own service games.
Ozaki finally drew first blood late in the set, breaking to get ahead 5-4 and serve for the set, but Mladenovic found her range just tin time. She brought out her powerful forehand to break straight back, reeling off three games in a row to take the narrow opening set.
With the Frenchwoman finally in full flow, Ozaki found herself winning just nine points in total in the lopsided second set. Mladenovic’s winners came thick and fast, and she sealed the encounter with an ace after an hour and twenty-five minutes.
She’ll take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the next round, with the goal being to get as many matches on grass under her belt as possible.
“I arrived here on Saturday, so I just had two or three days to practice on grass,” Mladenovic explained. “It’s still not a lot and Den Bosch is my first tournament on grass, but I’ve always played well here and I hope I can do well again this year.”
Defending champion CoCo Vandeweghe found her own Ricoh Open run cut short as the No.4 seed was ousted from the tournament, one of many casualties in a day rife with upsets.
Vandeweghe fell to an inspired Carina Witthoeft in a tightly drawn three sets, losing 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5 after two hours and 15 minutes. No.3 seed Kiki Bertens was also upset by a resurgent Andrea Petkovic, who won 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-2. And No.8 seed Kristyna Pliskova met a similar fate, losing to Anett Kontaveit 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1.
No.5 seed Ana Konjuh was the only other seed to advance, moving past Tamara Korpatsch 6-4, 6-4.