Kristina Mladenovic vs. Victoria Azarenka
|Date & Time||Monday August 6, 2018, 5:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: -- Over/Under:
Victoria Azarenka and Kristina Mladenovic meet in the first round of the 2018 tennis Rogers Cup.
Victoria Azarenka made the quarterfinals in San Jose but was forced to retire early in the second set due to a back injury. It will be interesting to see if Azarenka is even able to play in this match due to not a ton of time off between tournaments. The good news is that Azarenka was winning her match before the injury, as she won a first set tiebreak and won 69 percent of her first serve points. Azarenka has shown flashes since her return but nothing consistent, and right when it looked like she was ready to turn the corner, she gets hurt. Azarenka was serving at a very high level in California, so as long as she’s good to go health wise, she’s a player who could make a run in this tournament. Azarenka has won seven of her last nine matches on hard court.
Kristina Mladenovic lost her first match in San Jose and enters this tournament losing seven of her last 11 matches overall. Mladenovic is clearly struggling to find her form, and she’s coming off a match in which she got just 47 percent of her first serves in play. It also doesn’t help that Mladenovic has lost the first match in four of her last eight tournaments, so there’s not even a chance for her to gain a rhythm. The good news is Mladenovic has been able to grind out victories when she does win, and the sets she loses have been competitive. Even her loss against Serena Williams, Mladenovic was able to win 11 games and force a second set tiebreak. While the record isn’t pretty, Mladenovic continues to fight and compete, so good things should come sooner or later. Mladenovic has lost three straight matches on hard court.
These two have played once, which was in the 2015 Wimbledon, a match Azarenka won in straight sets. The match took 20 games to be decided.
Who knows if this match is even played, but if it is, I’m siding with Azarenka. Mladenovic has been competitive and plays hard, but she’s running into one of the best grinders in the sport. Azarenka is as feisty as they come and the queen of finding ways to win even when she doesn’t have her best stuff. She wills her way to wins a lot of the time. If Mladenovic gets down early, it will be another case of here we go again.
Assuming the back is fine, Azarenka advances.