Kristina Mladenovic reached her second straight grass court quarterfinal, booking a clash with Petra Kvitova after a tight two-set win over Zhang Shuai at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham.
WTA Staff

BIRMINGHAM, Great Britain - No.5 seed Kristina Mladenovic showed off her all-court game to tremendous effect on Thursday, edging past China's Zhang Shuai, 6-4, 7-6(3) to book her spot in the quarterfinals of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham.

"It’s grass, and there’s a lot of nerves. You have to be ready to take every opportunity," Mladenovic noted during her on-court interview. "It’s not easy; she’s playing really well, great tennis from the baseline. She hits the ball very fast and took her chances, so I had to really fight.

"But I’m extremely glad to be back here, beautiful weather, so far no rain!"

The Frenchwoman is in the midst of a career-best season, winning her maiden title at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy and reaching back-to-back finals at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and the Mutua Madrid Open before earning her best-ever result at home in Roland Garros, dethroning defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza en route to the quarterfinals.

Against Zhang, Mladenovic rallied back from 2-4 down in the second set, and gamely served her way out of percarious positions in the 10th and 12th games to force a tie-break, ultimately clinching the win after one hour and 38 minutes on court.

"I love battling, trying my best to pull through these kinds of matches, trying to win few epic points like the one today," sha laughed, referring to the passing shot she hit shortly before taking a tumble. "I think I’ll remember it forever; I didn’t know it was in until I heard the cheering, so I definitely want to see the replay of that for sure!"

Check out the point below:

Bringing the aggressive game that worked on hardcourts and clay over to the grass, she struck 33 winners to 26 unforced errors and converted three of four break point opportunities to reach her third straight WTA quarterfinal. That kind of consistency has brought Mladenovic up to a career-high ranking of No.12 and No.5 on the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard.

"It’s a great feeling to win matches. The confidence is there for sure, but ultimately I feel like I’ve improved lots of things in my game and now it’s paying off. It’s nice to have these rewards for all the hard work, but I’m just enjoying the process and I just want to improve every day."

Up next for Mladenovic is two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, who rolled through her opening two matches in just her second tournament back from a career-threatening hand injury.

"It’s very nice to see her back; it’s very important for the game, because she’s such a nice girl, one of the nicest on tour. We missed her!

"She’s showed amazing form and we all know she’s one of the best players on grass. She’s on a roll, so I’m expecting a tough one; it’s the quarterfinals of a big tournament, so that’s no surprise."