In-form Mladenovic ousts Halep
Mladenovic, who started the year ranked No.42, reached the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open with a 6-3 6-3 victory over the 2015 champion to set up a meeting with Lauren Davis.
After a first-round defeat to Ana Konjuh at the Australian Open, Mladenovic bounced back to win her maiden WTA title in St Petersburg and reaching the final in Acapulco earlier this month. Following wins over Venus Williams in St Petersburg and Karolina Pliskova in Dubai, Mladenovic pulled off another scalp in Indian Wells, beating the No.5 seed in straight sets.
“We always had very tough battles,” said Mladenovic after the match. “I think that match was a big win for me, physically. I was there solid and hanging in there and putting sometimes balls back and being brave. I played the game plan I had perfectly.”
While Mladenovic is enjoying a run of form, Halep has not played since early February after pulling out of St Petersburg with a recurrence of the left knee problem she suffered in Australia.
“Based on how much I was able to practise before this event, I’m happy to have made the third round,” said Halep, who beat Donna Vekic in her opening match. “She’s playing well and has confidence, but I missed a lot. After the first set, my legs were gone. My tennis legs aren’t back yet, so I need to work a lot.”
Halep was not the only high-profile seed to tumble out in the third round as Agnieszka Radwanska was beaten 6-4 6-4 by Chinese qualifier Peng Shuai.
“I’m really happy that I can come back and play this tournament again; after my back surgery I almost ended my career,” said Peng after scoring her first Top 10 win since 2014. “But I spent a lot of time and fought hard to be here.”
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