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By Tennis Now | Friday, October 18, 2019

Kristina Mladenovic

Kristina Mladenovic broke four times in a row to close a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 upset of second-seeded Kiki Bertens and power into the Moscow semifinals.

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Stepping on the court in Moscow, Kristina Mladenovic was infused with the party spirit.

The world No. 1 doubles player shared the celebration with Kremlin Cup fans in a strong show of closing power.

Watch: White House Tennis

Mladenovic broke serve four times in a row closing a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 upset of second-seeded Kiki Bertens to charge into the Moscow semifinals and deal a serious blow to Bertens' bid to qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals.

It is Mladenovic's fourth Top 10 triumph of the season following wins over Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty and Elina Svitolina. 

The 2017 St. Petersburg champion charged out to a 5-0 lead in the final set and closed on her first match point.

"It feels amazing," Mladenovic told fans afterward. "I love coming back to Russia. I won my first title in St. Petersburg. I keep coming back to the VTB Kremlin Cup. I love everything about the new venue.

"You, guys, are awesome, really thanks for coming every day and supporting us."

The world No. 45 dedicated her win to her father, Dragan, who celebrated his birthday today.

"Today I have one extra motivation," Mladenovic said.  "It is my father's birthday! I won all my singles matches in three sets and I am still playing doubles as well. I just love competing and playing I am very happy to be here."

It was Mladenovic's third straight three-set win. She defeated Yulia Putintseva in her opener then knocked off sixth-seeded Anastasija Sevastova yesterday before bouncing Bertens today.

Next up for Mladenovic is a Saturday semifinal vs. her former doubles partner Belinda Bencic.

The third-seeded Swiss stopped Kirsten Flipkens 7-6(10), 6-1 surging into her seventh semifinal of the season. 

Bencic kept her hopes for qualifying for the season-ending WTA Finals alive.

The 22-year-old Bencic can surpass Serena Williams and Bertens to secure the eighth spot in Shenzhen by reaching the Moscow final.

"Kirsten Flipkens and her slices are a nightmare for me!" Bencic said afterward. "Sometimes I thought she could slice forever. But we were preparing for this. We made the right steps against her. And I am happy that I used my chance in the first set, and then in the second.

"Right now, I am playing Moscow, but I am aware of the qualifying situation in Shenzhen. If I don't play in WTA Finals this year, I will be very happy to play next year!"

Bencic is bidding for her fourth career title and first since she toppled four Top 10 opponents in succession—Aryna Sabalenka, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Petra Kvitova—to lift the Dubai title trophy in February.

Mladenovic has won three of four encounters vs. Bencic with three of their four meetings going the distance.

Karolina Muchova broke serve four time defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3, 6-4. Muchova has not dropped a set in tournament victories over two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, fourth-seeded Donna Vekic and the eighth-seeded Alexandrova

Continuing her quest for a a second career title, Muchova will meet the winner of the all-Russian quarterfinal between Veronika Kudermetova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the semifinals. Muchova won her maiden WTA title in Seoul last month surrendering just one set in five tournament victories. 


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