Kristina Mladenovic scored a straight sets victory over wildcard Harriet Dart at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz on Tuesday, setting a second-round against good friend and doubles partner Timea Babos.
WTA Staff
October 9, 2018

LINZ, Austria - France's Kristina Mladenovic scored her first singles win since the US Open at the Upper Austria Ladies' Linz on Tuesday, defeated wildcard Harriet Dart of Great Britain, 6-3, 6-4.

After reaching the second round in singles and finishing runner-up in doubles in New York, Mladenovic went winless when solo during the Asian swing, and dropped her opening matches against Anett Kontaveit, Katerina Siniakova and Angelique Kerber in Tokyo, Wuhan and Beijing, respectively.

However, the World No.48 snapped her skid in style against the 22-year-old Brit, breaking serve three times in the victory, serving four aces. 

"I'm really pleased with the way I played. It's never easy because I didn't know much about my opponent today, but I thought she has some talent. She really showed some great shots," Mladenovic said.

"It's always tricky because you don't know her patterns. I had to search and grind and figure out what she's good at. I think it was pretty solid on my serve...and I was excited to play my first match here in Linz."

The win for the Frenchwoman sets a clash against one of the players she knows best in the next round: her aforementioned doubles partner and World No.1 Timea Babos.

The Hungarian cruised to an opening round upset of No.8 seed Donna Vekic with the loss of just two games earlier on Tuesday, saving all nine break points she faced in the match. 

"She is one-of-a-kind. On tour, you have few really good friends and she is my best friend. Even when we are not in a tennis tournament, we share everything about our lives," Mladenovic said of the Hungarian.

"It's a very precious relationship and friendship. We are more used to being on the same side, and every tournament we practice. She's really my partner and my best girl friend."

The pair faced off either this year in San Jose, with Babos winning in straight sets, but the head-to-head is tied at 4-4 dating back to 2011.

"It's difficult because those matches are always tricky. We know each other's games by heart, perfectly. We've played lots of times already. I think her record against me is pretty positive and I know she likes my game," the Frenchwoman continued.

"It will be my turn to try to adjust and get my revenge, but I don't like to say that because she's probably the only one in the draw that both of us would be completely fine to face someone else."

Other first round action on Tuesday saw No.5 seed Camila Giorgi defeat Mladenovic's compatriot Pauline Parmentier in straight sets, and Belarus' Vera Lapko rally from a set down to defeat 2017 quarterfinalist Belinda Bencic, 1-6, 6-1, 6-0.