Last week was the comeback week for Simona Halep on the WTA tour after a couple of poor months however sadly she had to retire in the final against Bencic will illness and faced a tough opponent in Kristina Mladenovic in the second round of Cincinnati an opponent she has never beaten before during their previous two meetings.
Mladenovic started the match but it was Halep who was on the scoreboard first with a break of serve after some backhand errors from the French women. 1-0 became 2-0 after some good control from Halep just on the baseline looking refreshed from her run in Toronto last week. Two stunning service return winners from Halep helped set up three break points for the world number three however Mladenovic began to find her feet and held for 1-2 with some strong shots off the forehand into play. Halep continued to be untroubled on serve in the opening 4 games of the match and took a 3-1 lead in the first set.
Mladenovic managed to keep it to one break of serve and managed to hold from 15-30 down on serve for 2-3 but could she trouble the Halep serve for the first time in this match? A drop shot from Mladenovic and an error from Halep set up 0-30 and then 15-40 and Mladenovic saw some break back points out of nothing and broke after some more excellent net play following another drop shot. At 15-30 Simona had a chance for 15-40 but hit a forehand into the net. Mladenovic looked to try and find some luck at the net on game point but Simona saw it coming to hit a backhand passing shot for deuce and then a poor slice shot set up Simona nicely to hit a forehand winner to see a break point before the French number three double fault and fell 3-4 behind.
The drop shot started to become a bit predictable from Mladenovic on break point and Simona got there in time to volley the ball over with Mladenovic not covering the net. An error from Halep gifted the break back and the set level after 8 games at 4-4. An incredible backhand down the line took Mladenovic out of the game and a chance to maybe for Halep to get infront at 0-30 and 0-40 after an error from Mladenovic following a good service return from Halep and a double fault followed a few moments later and Halep broke to serve for the set.
A shake of the head for Halep as she began the game with a double fault. Before you know it Halep was 15-40 down on serve and facing break points one of which was saved but a service return from Mladenovic forced an error from Halep to level at 5-5.
An issue followed as at 0-15 Mladenovic fell awkwardly on the court and took off her shoe with the trainer on their way to court. After a few minutes delay play continued after some treatment for the foot of Mladenovic. Another poor drop shot followed for 0-40 and Mladenovic trying to move her foot about and the Romanian broke again for 6-5 but could she serve out the set after 7 breaks of serve in the first 11 games?
Mladenovic just couldn’t keep up in the game with this foot problem causing some issues with her movement and Halep strolled in her next service game to take the set 7-5 and Mladenovic calling on her mum/coach at the end of the set.
Kristina needed a good start to the second set and she certainly got that with a very good hold of serve to take a 1-0 lead. Halep followed up with a very impressive hold of serve herself to level the set in the early stages.
The first chance for a break went to Halep however she couldn’t convert the break point opportunities and Mladenovic managed to hold for 2-1. Just as Halep looked like holding serve the Romanian was broken and Mladenovic suddenly 3-1 up. Halep didn’t let the French number three get going in the next game and broke back to love for 2-3!
Another poor drop shot decision from Mladenovic at 15-30 and Halep got back to 30-30 after reading the shot so well (again!) and from 15-30 Halep held serve for 3-3. At 3-3 30-30 a double fault from Mladenovic set up break point for Halep and a forehand winner from Halep followed to break for 4-3. For the second time in the match Mladenovic called on her coach but is it a little too late for the Frenchwomen?
4-3 became 5-3 thanks to the help of more errors from Mladenovic taking her number for the match to 35 unforced errors. Mladenovic done her bit saving a match point with a wonderful backhand down the line for 4-5 and Halep would serve for the match. Mladenovic had to save another match point and then broke back for 5-5 with the match continuing. Mladenovic saved break point to go up 6-5 in the set and then found herself 30-15 up on the Halep serve and against the run of play Mladenovic breaks following an error from Halep with the match going to a third set!
Halep started the set the better going up 2-0 with a break of serve. After that break of serve early on in the set nothing much happened from then until the end with Halep going on to win her first ever match against Kristina Mladenovic and advancing to round three where she will play Andrea Petkovic.