2016 Rioch Open

Mladenovic nets Bencic

Second career #WTA Final for Mladenovic

Kristina Mladenovic gained revenge for last year’s Ricoh Open defeat with a stunning semi-final triumph over Belinda Bencic.

The French ace, beaten at the same stage last term here at ‘S-hertogenbosch in Holland, bounced back from a poor first set to win 2-6 6-3 6-4.

And the reward for the #3 seed is a final showdown with 2014 champion CoCo Vandeweghe, who saw off her US compatriot Madison Brengle.

Bencic, who came to the tournament after a two-month lay-off because of a back injury, has struggled in all of her previous matches but Mladenovic was one step too far.

The top seed ripped into her best friend from the start, racing away with the opening set in 33 spellbinding minutes despite only converting two of the nine break points she carved out.

Mladenovic bounced back with her usual more aggressive game, heavily dependent on her serve and going all out for points to be rewarded with the set to level matters.

Third set: Mladenovic storms back to force a decider over Bencic 2-6, 6-3

A tight deciding set followed, Bencic unable to capitalise on her break point opportunities to allow her stronghold on the contest to be relinquished and taste her first defeat since her comeback.

Mladenovic, who lost her only WTA Tour final, has a shot at winning her maiden crown and had considered withdrawing from the Ricoh Open as she captured the French Open Doubles crown with compatriot Caroline Garcia last Sunday.

“It was definitely a very tough match, and a very tricky one.”

“Belinda is my best friend on Tour and in real life. Because it is a lifetime relationship then it’s not easy to play each other.

“The funny part is that we have played each other just one time, exactly one year ago right here.

“It was a close match, three sets like this, and she won it. I’m just glad to have taken my revenge.”

When the umpire is having a bad day!

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