WTA Aegon Classic, 🇬🇧 Birmingham QF Preview
QF #2: (5) 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic vs (7/wc) 🇨🇿 Petra Kvitova
A blockbuster quarter-final clash at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham sees an in-form Kristina Mladenovic come up against a resurgent Petra Kvitova. This promises to be an exciting first-strike battle between two players that love to dominant with their huge forehands. Kvitova has had a clear edge over Mladenovic in their previous few matches but the Frenchwoman has vastly improved in 2017 and bring better form and match hardness into this quarter-final clash. Kvitova has traditionally been one of the most competent players on grass, this match against Mladenovic is a great test for Kvitova to see where she is at early in her comeback to the tour after a horrific injury in the off-season.
Kristina Mladenovic has been the most consistent player on tour in the last couple of months, displaying her versatility and ability to perform well on every surface. The Frenchwoman will be competing in her 8th quarter-final of the year on Friday, reaching the final 8 stage at least twice on every surface. Mladenovic’s two wins in Birmingham were quite similar, both tight straight set wins over Chinese opponents, a 6-3 7-6 win over Ying-Ying Duan and a 6-4 7-6 win over Shuai Zhang. Mladenovic hasn’t been at her best in Birmingham but has raised her level when needed. Mladenovic will face her greatest test of the week when she comes up against Kvitova on Friday.
Petra Kvitova has displayed some vintage form in her first tournament back on her favourite surface in 2017. Kvitova has advanced to the final 8 with little problems, breezing past Tereza Smitkova (6-2 6-3) and Naomi Broady (6-2 6-2). Whilst Kvitova has looked good this week, Friday’s quarter-final clash against Mladenovic will give a greater indication at to where her level is really at as we edge closer to Wimbledon.
Kvitova holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Mladenovic and has won their two most recent matches, most recently a 6-3 6-4 win in a Fed Cup rubber in 2015 on a hard court.
I’m going to give Kvitova the benefit of the doubt here. There is no doubt that Kvitova is the better player on this surface but Mladenovic will provide a big challenge for Petra at this early stage of her comeback. I think it is a challenge that Kvitova will relish. Kvitova is the more competent player on this surface and this is a good match-up for Petra in theory. Kvitová’s serve if far more reliable on this surface and can expose the weaker backhand side of Mladenovic, a critical factor that could be the difference in a close one.