Doubles partners Svetlana Kuznetsova and Kiki Mladenovic will be on opposite sites of the court in today’s Mutua Madrid Open semifinal.
(8) Svetlana Kuznetsova (No.9) vs (14) Kristina Mladenovic (No.17)
Overview: After an average start to the season for Svetlana Kuznetsova seeing her make the quarterfinals in Brisbane and the round of 16 in the Australian Open, Kuznetsova made her third Premier Mandatory final in Indian Wells, where she narrowly lost to Elena Vesnina in a three-set thriller. Sveta has been growing in confidence in Madrid; starting off with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Yaroslava Shvedova in her opener, she saved a match point in a thrilling win against Alison Riske. She hasn’t lost a set since then, with emphatic victories over Wang Qiang and Eugenie Bouchard to book a spot in the semifinals. Kuznetsova is looking more and more like a French Open contender. To try to solidify her position as one of the contenders, she will now face Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic for a spot in the final.
Kristina Mladenovic now has a 27-5 record, which includes a semifinal in Indian Wells, final appearances in Acapulco and Stuttgart and a title in St.Petersburg. Mladenovic came close to exiting the tournament in the second round, just like Kuznetsova. Surviving a third set tiebreaker against Lauren Davis, Mladenovic has cruised through her next two matches against Oceane Dodin and Sorana Cirstea. The Frenchwoman hasn’t had a difficult draw, capitalising on early round casualities such as Dominika Cibulkova and Madison Keys falling out early. It would be a different level of opponent for Mladenovic this time round in World No.9 Kuznetsova.
Head to head: These two have only met once, in the first round of the US Open in 2015 where Mladenovic won.
Random stat: Kuznetsova is 3-0 in Premier Mandatory semifinals (correct me if I’m wrong!) but 0-3 in Premier Mandatory finals. (i. Kvitova in 2015 Madrid, i. Azarenka in 2016 Miami, i. Vesnina 2017 Indian Wells)
Thoughts: Giving the edge to Kuznetsova for this match. The Russian is the more experienced one in the latter stages of tournaments and the surface and conditions in Madrid suit her. Both players are really playing well this year, the defensive and clay court skills of Kuznetsova against the big-serving, aggressive Mladenovic. It could really go either way but the safe pick is Kuznetsova.
Prediction: Kuznetsova to defeat Mladenovic in three