13th seed Kristina Mladenovic took to the court against Duan Ying-Ying looking to end her losing streak. The pair had previously met and it was the Frenchwoman who had got the upper hand in their match in Birmingham this year. Duan was hoping to reverse the result with the help of the home crowd advantage.
She got off to a great start but Mladenovic pegged her back soon after. It was a tight first set with Duan eventually getting a late break hammering great winners in the process and closing out the set. The second set saw the Chinese run away with the lead as the Frenchwoman’s serve let her down. Mladenovic did put up a late resistance but it was not enough against the wildcard who sealed a 7-5, 6-4 victory.
Duan edges a tight set
The Chinese benefitted from a shaky start from Mladenovic and a fine winner saw her took an immediate break. The big hitter consolidated it with a comfortable hold before Mladenovic followed up with a hold of her own to get on board for 1-2 to ease the nerves. In the game that followed Duan, however, made a couple of errors and Mladenovic was able to pounce on them to break right back. That break seemed to give her much needed confidence seeing as in recent days the Frenchwoman has been in a slump. She held comfortably for 3-2 to take the lead for the first time.
The match then continued on serves and Mladenovic looked to be swinging more freely. The eighth game tightened up and the Frenchwoman put pressure on Duan pushing her to deuce a few times. However, the Chinese hung on to level for 4-4. Mladenovic’s serve soon came to trouble her again though and it presented Duan a break point in the 11th game. An untimely double fault then gave the wildcard the crucial break to serve for the set at 6-5. Duan made no mistake about it and grabbed the first set 7-5.
Late fightback from Mladenovic not enough as Duan wraps up the win
Duan then took a medical timeout for a thigh issue at the end of the first. At the resumption of the second set, Mladenovic started strong with an important hold. The next few games proceeded on serve before a difficult fifth game on the Frenchwoman serve handed Duan with a chance to break first in the set. And Mladenovic could only net her shot on break point and gave the Chinese the break for 3-2.
The Frenchwoman seemed to get a new spark though coming up with a good point before rifling a return winner to get the chance to break right back. Duan was not going to hand the break back easily and withstood the challenger to extend her lead to 4-2. Again, the Chinese crafted up another chance to break, this time with a brilliant slice winner. Mladenovic was made to pay as she let her game points slip by earlier and became her own worst enemy as she hit her ninth double fault to give Duan a staggering 5-2 lead.
With the match on her racket, the Chinese though looked as though pressure got to her handing Mladenovic an opportunity to get one of the breaks back. Mladenovic gave it her all in that game and blasted a massive return to break back for 3-5. The Frenchwoman then held once more to make Duan serve for the match again. The wildcard conjured up match point and there was no last hurrah for Mladenovic as Duan closed out the victory.