ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - Unseeded Kristina Mladenovic pulled off a stunner at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, dispatching No.4 seed and former World No.1 Venus Williams, 6-3, 6-1 in just 54 minutes.
"Venus is a top player, a top champion," Mladenovic said after the match. "It must have been difficult for Venus to come here after playing back-to-back weekends. I was just trying to play aggressive tennis.
"To be on the same court is a big honor. I'm very happy to say I played with her and that I won today."
Mladenovic enjoyed a bright start to her first encounter with the Australian Open runner-up, attacking her second serve and raced into a 5-0 lead. The Frenchwoman's aggressive game plan paid off even as Williams soon warmed up: she blitzed eight forehand winners into the corners and beyond the player almost 14 years her senior.
"It was a very difficult match. I just tried to be very aggressive from the beginning. I was quite sure it would be difficult for her to adjust from Australia, as it was for me the first couple of days.
"I tried to be solid and aggressive, trying not to give her time to adjust into her game. I think I did that pretty well today and I'm happy to get the win."
Even as things got tenser in the opening set, world No. 51 kept her nerve and served it out on her second attempt.
"I had a good feeling at the beginning of the match. I started very well, playing powerfully and serving good. The 5-0 lead was kind of surprising in a way, but it put me in a good position and even when I got tight, I stayed composed to close out the first set. It gave me confidence to continue putting the workd in and win the match.
The No.4 seed staved off four break points to start the second set but Mladenovic wore her down and broke at her fifth opportunity to take the early lead and keep up the momentum.
She broke again en route to an emphatic a 5-1 lead, breaking one more time to clinch her spot in the last eight, where she'll face defending champion and No.6 seed Roberta Vinci.
"It's going to be a very tough match. Roberta is such a great player, with a lot of variety and tactics. Our last battle was a very good one at the quarterfinals of the 2015 US Open. She plays very well on this surface, so it'll be a tough match, but I hope to play my best tennis."
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This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.