Kristina Mladenovic wins thriller against Daria Gavrilova to reach Hong Kong Tennis Open final
The Frenchwomen wins 7-5, 6-3 in their semi-final at Victoria Park on Saturday and will face either Jelena Jankovic or Caroline Wozniacki for the title on Sunday
France’s Kristina Mladenovic defeated eighth seed Daria Gavrilova of Australia 7-5, 6-3 in an enthralling semi-final contest on a picture perfect afternoon at Victoria Park on Saturday to reach the final of the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open.
The first semi-final was a thriller between two players whose presence in the final four was a surprise after Gavrilova disposed of world number one Angelique Kerber in straight sets on Friday, while Mladenovic scored a win over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
It was clear from the outset that the two were evenly matched as they exchanged service games in a nervy first set.
Frustration was evident in the opener, which lasted exactly one hour, as tempers threatened to boil over at 5-4 as Maldenovic launched a tirade at the umpire after a controversial line call.
— HK Tennis Open (@HKTennisOpen) October 15, 2016
Then it was Gavrilova’s turn to throw a tantrum in the direction of the official.
The two-hour match was incredible fare for the heaving Centre Court crowd that was treated to the most nail-biting drama of the competition so far.
An epic final game in the second set had spectators on their feet as both players battled for the win before an emotional Maldenovic eventually struck the decisive blow.
For the Frenchwoman, the win takes her a step closer to an elusive first WTA singles title as Sunday will mark her third appearance in a Tour final
Her opponent in the final will be either defending champion Jelena Jankovic or fellow former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, who meet in Saturday’s later match.
Mladenovic, 23, has endured a difficult 2016 after reaching a career high world ranking of 29 at the end of last season.
Caroline Wozniacki beats China’s Wang Qiang to reach Hong Kong Open semis, seeking a second Asian title in a ‘difficult’ season
For her part, 22-year-old Gavrilova will regret missing an opportunity to register her first WTA singles triumph having been handed what was on paper the easiest route to the final, and missing a hatful of opportunities to take the match into a decider in a hugely competitive second set.