Azarenka secures straight sets victory over Mladenovic at Rogers Cup
Victoria Azarenka enjoyed a huge victory to start her run at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. The 29-year-old mother had everything going right against Kristina Mladenovic in her match that resulted in a 6-0, 6-1 score on Centre Court at IGA Stadium.
The French star played 10 double faults with six of them coming in the opening set, ultimately spelling her demise. The second meeting between the top players came three years after a match at Wimbledon where the Belorussian also handed the Frenchwoman a straight sets loss.
Things are different since then with their skills tested against one another on the hard courts this time. Azarenka had a decent showing at San Jose last week winning two matches before going out with an injury in the quarterfinals. This left a question about whether she would be able to play north of the border.
Mladenovic wasn’t so lucky in her run out at the Silicon Valley Classic losing in the first round to Timea Babos. With that standing as her one and only hard court match so far, the 25-year-old had to show her readiness to compete.
Azarenka showed her strength in the opening game holding easily against Mladenovic. She got comfortable earning the break before consolidating a second straight serve that gave the Belorussian a 3-0 hold.
The French star almost had a serve to love on Azarenka in the fourth but failed to defend her gap which disappeared handing a deuce chance in play. The 29-year-old completed a double break and was coasting along in the set.
She briskly made work of the fifth game, scoring big points with her crosscourt accuracy that left her a game away from a bagel first set. Mladenovic was well under pressure as she served, continuing with the double faults to record her fifth for the set.
Despite that, Mladenovic's backhand helped her force deuce with Azarenka. However, the Belorussian won on a third set point attempt ending things in 25 minutes. She served 53%, landing six of nine on the first serve and six of eight from the second indicating her powerful stance against Mladenovic who had only one point from her second serve on nine chances.
With no choice but to settle in, the French star tried to get her game going but had no control. Azarenka won her seventh straight game and then her eighth after Mladenovic committed two more double faults.
It was still all in the hands of the 29-year-old who capped her ninth game in a row on service. Just when it looked as if Mladenovic found a way to end her woes in the 10th game, Azarenka rallied back to force deuce. Azarenka had trouble returning, putting too much backspin on the ball which lead to the French star gaining the advantage point before scoring a cross-court winner away from the Belorussian avoiding a tenth consecutive loss.
Now a double bagel was out of the question for Azarenka but she maintained her grip on the second set by winning the fifth game. She earned another break from Mladenovic who was out of it and now facing her fate with the Belorussian serving for the match.
Azarenka saw a final battle from Mladenovic who forced deuce on her match point. She didn’t gain further ground, however, as the former world number one ended her night on the court in just 55 minutes.
Azarenka finished the night with 75% of points won from the first serve and a second serve not far behind. She'll hope that all the good qualities she brought together could continue in her second round match against Johanna Konta.