Mutua Madrid Open 2017 WTA Final Preview: Kristina Mladenovic vs Simona Halep

Kristina Mladenovic will be aiming to spoil Simona Halep’s title defence in the Mutua Madrid Open final.

(14) Kristina Mladenovic (No.17) vs (3) Simona Halep (No.8)

Overview: Kristina Mladenovic has made herself known as one of the forces to watch out in 2017. After a disappointing Australian swing, Mladenovic captured her first WTA title at St.Petersburg. Her fortunes turned at that point, making the semifinals of Indian Wells, finals of Acapulco and Stuttgart, and now a Madrid final. Overall, Mladenovic has been 9-1 on the dirt this year, proving herself to be a contender to look out for at the French Open.

The Frenchwoman was almost out in her two openers against Ana Konjuh and Lauren Davis; the former retired while the latter pushed Mladenovic to a third set tiebreak where she ultimately emerged victorious. It has been smooth sailing since then, notching wins over Oceane Dodin, Sorana Cirstea and now Svetlana Kuznetsova in a high-quality encounter to book her ticket into a first ever Premier Mandatory final.

Meeting Mladenovic in the Madrid finals? Simona Halep, defending champ.

Halep had a tire start to 2017 too, after injuries derailed her season where she only won one match in the Australian swing, and had to withdraw from St.Petersburg, Doha and Dubai. She returned to the tour in Indian Wells where she suffered a loss to her opponent today, Mladenovic. Halep throughly improved in Miami where she made it all the way to the quarterfinals with wins over Naomi Osaka, Anett Kontaveit and Samantha Stosur, only losing to Johanna Konta.

The Romanian avenged her lost to Konta in the Fed Cup, and notched a win over Heather Watson to help Romania to stay in the World Group II. Her confidence has been sky high since then, notching seven Top 50 wins in the space of Stuttgart and Madrid. She’ll face her first Top 20 player in Madrid though, with Mladenovic in the way to stop the title defence from happening.

Head to head: Mladenovic leads this head to head 3-1, and won their previous encounter in Indian Wells this year, but it was just Halep’s second match coming back from injury, so I’ll not read too much into it.

Random stat: Mladenovic is 1-5 in finals; her only win was in St.Petersburg this year over Yulia Putintseva.

Thoughts: Like I said above in the stat, Mladenovic has a dire record in the finals – and that may prove decisive over Halep who has already 14 WTA titles to her name. However, Mladenovic is playing at a really high level this year – as shown in her win over Kuznetsova. Halep is playing really well together – her coach definitely has been a factor and with so many good wins on clay this year, she has a great chance to win her first Grand Slam title in a while. But first, who will win? It’s so difficult to say… Halep just? 🤔

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