Maria Sharapova vs Kristina Mladenovic WTA Madrid tennis Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Sharapova and Mladenovic battle for quarter final spot

Leye Aduloju in WTA 9 May 2018
  • Maria Sharapova vs Kristina Mladenovic is live from Madrid on Wednesday, 9 May from 6:00pm local time/ 5:00pm BST
  • Sharapova and Mladenovic have split their previous two meetings
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Madrid at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)
Maria Sharapova. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Former world number one, Maria Sharapova continues her quest for a second Madrid Open title when she takes on last year’s beaten finalist, Kristina Mladenovic in the third round on Wednesday.

Maria Sharapova vs Kristina Mladenovic WTA Mutua Madrid Open tennis is live from Madrid on Wednesday, 9 May from 6:00pm local time/ 5:00pm BST 
Watch and bet on tennis live from Madrid at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)

2014 champion, Sharapova had arrived Madrid on a four-match losing streak, seeking her first win since January’s Australian Open, but the Russian has now picked up two in a row in the Spanish capital, putting her one win away from a return to the Madrid Open quarter finals. She has been good this week, beating Prague runner-up, Mihaela Buzarnescu in the opening round, before taking down Irina-Camelia Begu in the second round.

Begu had come into that second-round meeting with a decent resume- she has been to the quarter finals of the Madrid Open on two occasions; and had taken down Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets in the opening round. True to her reputation, the Romanian made the better start, breaking Sharapova for the 2-0 lead, but the Russian got the break back in the sixth game, before breaking again in the twelfth game to close out the opening set via a forehand winner. Sharapova dropped her serve again in the first game of the second set, but that was the signal for the five-time Grand Slam champion to put her foot down, as she sped through the next six straight games, winning 19 straight points in a particularly devastating passage of play to surge into surge third round.

"It was a lot of hard work," she said after the match. "Obviously being down a break to start off both of those sets didn't make things easy for me. Although I didn't play at my best level in the first set, I pulled it through. I played some really tough points. I hung in there especially in that final game. Then I really set up a good opportunity for me to step up". 
"I thought I did a really good job of that, especially in the last six games. I was very aggressive, played deep, returned a lot better. That will certainly help me moving forward."

Sharapova has enjoyed decent success in Madrid in the past, reaching at least the semi-finals between 2013 and 2015, and winning the title in 2014. She missed the tournament in 2016 as she served her 15-month doping ban; but she returned in time to compete in the 2017 edition, where she fell to fierce critic, Eugenie Bouchard in the second round. She has had a long running battle with injuries since them, with several physical issues hampering her quest to reestablish herself in the top echelon in the women’s game. She did enjoy the feel-good factor of claiming a WTA title in Tianjin towards the end of last season, but she has struggled to get going in the new year. She made the semi-finals in Shenzhen in her 2018 opener, and reached the third round of the Australian Open, but the Russian lost three consecutive opening matches after that, and had issues with her forearm, which forced her to pull out of tournaments in Dubai and Miami. There were also off-court changes, as the 30-year-old split with long-time coach, Sven Groenefeld, and got reunited with Thomas Hogstedt. The road has been rough, and Mladenovic will attempt to roughen it even further when she takes on the former world number one on Wednesday.


Mladenovic was another one of Sharapova’s biggest critics last year as the Russian received a plethora of wildcards on her return from suspension, and the Frenchwoman backed her words with action by taking down the Russian in an epic semi-final in Stuttgart last year- in Sharapova’s first tournament back after a doping ban.

Kristina Mladenovic. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
The Stuttgart final formed part of a superb opening half of 2017 for Mladenovic, during which she claimed her first WTA title in St. Petersburg and made other finals in Acapulco and of course Madrid. She also reached the semi-finals at Indian Wells, and the quarter finals of the French Open. However, if the first half of the year was great, the second half was the complete opposite as Mladenovic embarked on one of the most spectacular collapses in recent WTA history. 

The Frenchwoman lost 15 games in a row, a terrible patch which spilled into the start of 2018. She eventually snapped out of her slumber in St. Petersburg, where she returned to the final, and has basically been scraping around since then, with a quarter final in Acapulco being her only other noteworthy result of the season. 

She started her clay-court season with consecutive opening round losses in Lugano and Stuttgart, but has strung together two good wins in Madrid, beating Stuttgart finalist, CoCo Vandeweghe in the opening round, and taking out hard-hitting Chinese, Shuai Zhang in three sets in the second round.

"I'm happy with the way I've been playing to get to this stage, so I'm just gonna enjoy and try to repeat what I've been doing the last days," she said.

Mladenovic came from a set down to beat Sharapova in Stuttgart last year in what was their second career meeting after Sharapova had won their first encounter in straight sets at Wimbledon 2013.

"I think there's a lot of variety off her backhand," Sharapova said of Mladenovic. "She doesn't like to hit through the backhand as much as she does on the forehand. You see a lot more of her, especially on the defense, slicing and drop-shotting. That's not a secret because we've played against each other a few times, even though it's been about a year”.

Like Sharapova pointed out, Mladenovic’s big strength is her forehand, as she doesn’t exactly fancy hitting through her backhand. She does have a penchant for those drop shots, which often come in very handy on this surface. Sharapova’s aggressive returning, and her ability to maintain pace and depth off both wings give her the edge in my opinion, but it isn’t like Mladenovic doesn’t know what to expect.

"I'm sure she will try to shorten the points with me and not get into too many rallies and physical stuff, because she must know that I prefer this game style than her," the Frenchwoman opined. "I'm sure she will try to be very aggressive on serve and return, no matter if it's a winner or an unforced error, so I don't get into my clay-court rhythm."

That is always often the case with Sharapova- if she finds her mark consistently through the course of the match, she will win this one, but Mladenovic’s job is to throw her off rhythm with that mixture of power and deftness. I’ll still go with Sharapova to excel on the fast clay courts of the Spanish capital!

Maria Sharapova vs Kristina Mladenovic tennis is live from Madrid on Wednesday, 9 May from 6:00pm local time/ 5:00pm BST
Watch and bet on the match live at bet365 > live streaming > Maria Sharapova vs Kristina Mladenovic  (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)


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Maria Sharapova vs Kristina Mladenovic WTA Madrid tennis Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Sharapova and Mladenovic battle for quarter final spot

Maria Sharapova meets Kristina Mladenovic in the Madrid Open on Wednesday. Who will reach the quarter finals? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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