French Open: No comeback this time for Kristina Mladenovic
It seemed like Mother Nature was doing her utmost to help Kristina Mladenovic at the French Open Tuesday but she just couldn’t take advantage.
Indeed this time there was no comeback for France’s top hope to end a 17-year singles drought at Roland Garros as the 13th seed was defeated by Timea Bacsinszky 6-4 6-4 in the quarterfinals.
Bacsinszky’s opponent in the last four won’t be former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki but rather the 2014 Wimbledon junior champion Jelena Ostapenko. When they battle Thursday, they’ll both be celebrating a birthday.
“It’s pretty funny,” Bacsinszky, soon to be 28, told reporters. “I think it’s pretty cool, though. I saw her in the gym just right after our matches today and so we both said to each other, ‘Well done.'”
Even though she is unseeded, Ostapenko’s 4-6 6-2 6-2 victory could hardly be classified an upset as the 19-year-old Latvian has now beaten the Dane three times on clay since April, striking a combined 148 winners in the process.
She is the first Latvian woman in the Open Era to make a grand slam semifinal and first teen into the semis at Roland Garros since Ana Ivanovic in 2007.
On a wet, windy, unseasonably cold day in Paris, rain forced the first two men’s quarterfinals to be pushed back to Wednesday.
It also halted proceedings with Bacsinszky leading Mladenovic by a set.
A three-hour delay ensued — the French Open is the lone grand slam without a roof, though that will finally change in 2020 — the type that can so often switch momentum in matches.
And sure enough Mladenovic — who trailed Jennifer Brady 3-0 in the third set in the first round and a second American, Shelby Rogers, 5-2 in the third set in the third round — temporarily lifted her game to lead 3-1 in the second.
But the 30th-seeded Swiss won the next three games to lead by a break, 4-3.
That’s when the heavens opened up again. This time the evening pause was much shorter.
Second rain delay
Yet given a second opportunity to turn things around, Mladenovic still was unable to capitalize.
“I think she managed to play way better than me,” Mladenovic said. “Maybe her game suits these kinds of conditions better, so at times when I wanted to be more aggressive, I did too many errors. I still had some opportunities here and there but didn’t make it.
“At the end, it’s a quite close scoreboard, 4 and 4, but I feel I’m very far from the game I could have shown.”
Bacsinszky saved a break point in the final game to move into a second semifinal at the French Open in the last three seasons.
She had virtually quit the sport in 2013, tired of the game, and has spoken openly about how her father pushed her into tennis.
If the weather gods tried to assist Mladenovic in one way, in another way they did not. The court was hardly full of spectators on the damp, nippy day, unlike on Sunday when the 24-year-old fed off the energy of a packed house and ousted defending champion Garbine Muguruza amid warm sunshine.
But Mladenovic said there was nothing wrong with the atmosphere.
One Frenchwoman however does remain in the draw: The player Mladenovic won the doubles title with last year in Paris, Caroline Garcia, who will play second-seed Karolina Pliskova in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.
Clay isn’t Wozniacki’s preferred surface but without her close friend Serena Williams in the field — the American is pregnant — she might have felt she had as good of a chance as any player to win the title.
Ultimately it wasn’t meant to be and the 26-year-old’s wait for a maiden grand slam title continues.
“I did my best and I tried to win today,” Wozniacki said. “It didn’t happen for me. In the end of the day, I’m just looking at it in this certain match.
“And I’m going to get another chance in a few weeks at Wimbledon and I’m going to try to take advantage of that.”
Due to the inclement weather Tuesday, all four men’s quarterfinals are also scheduled for Wednesday. The pick of the bunch sees defending champion Novak Djokovic meet the second most successful player on clay this season, Dominic Thiem.
A resurgent Rafael Nadal has been the top performer on the dirt and the nine-time French Open champion will be expected to get past fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in his quarterfinal.