By Jake Davies

  • Harriet Dart [WC] vs Kristina Mladenovic
LINZ, AUSTRIA – Harriet Dart looks to take the wildcard opportunity with both hands as she faces Kristina Mladenovic in the opening round of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz tournament.

 

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Harriet Dart [WC] vs Kristina Mladenovic H2H: First time meeting

Britain’s Harriet Dart will be looking to impress in a rare opportunity at a tour-level main draw as she takes on the former Top-10 player Kristina Mladenovic in the first round in Linz. Dart has had some experiences of WTA main draws in the past and clinched her first main draw win in Nanchang last year, but will be out to make the most of the wildcard she’s been granted by the tournament by causing one of the big upsets of the tournament.

For Dart it has always been about building that ranking high enough to be a consistent presence in the bigger events on tour, as it really is for a lot of the players. The Brit will recognise that one successful and positive week at one of these events could be life-changing in terms of ranking points and the ability to play high level tournaments on tour and move away from the struggles of the ITF circuit.

Kristina Mladenovic in the first round of the Nature Valley International, WTA Eastbourne 2018

Kristina Mladenovic in the first round of the Nature Valley International, WTA Eastbourne 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Beating Mladenovic will be a tough ask in many ways, though. The Frenchwoman blasted her way to a Top-10 ranking in the 2017 season, because of a fantastic first half of the season, but dramatically fell away and lost her form, confidence and game stability in one of the biggest downward turns in fortune on tour that has been seen in recent years. Mladenovic does have the variation and the effectiveness of the slice that really reacts well to these slow, low-bouncing surfaces in the indoor event in Linz, but the question will be whether she is feeling as vulnerable as her recent form suggests, losing all of her last four matches.

Dart’s tennis game really is built around hanging tough, making a nuisance of herself and ensuring that her opponent earns their victory, and the Brit will be doing all of that in her opening round match against Mladenovic in Linz.

Prediction: Mladenovic in straight sets

 

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