Mladenovic in St Petersburg final

SAINT PETERSBURG: France’s big-serving Kristina Mladenovic battled back from a set down to advance into the St Petersburg Trophy final on Saturday with a hard-fought win over Russia’s wildcard Natalia Vikhlyantseva. Mladenovic, ranked 51st, won 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours nine minutes to record her second win over 19-year-old Vikhlyantseva in as many meetings. Vikhlyantseva, ranked 115th, and who was playing in her first WTA semifinal, took the opening set in 58 minutes after both players produced a series of breaks.

But Mladenovic, 23, who is seeking her career’s maiden title here, replied positively moving up a gear to take two consecutive sets and to advance into her fourth career’s WTA final. “My (good) physical condition made the difference today,” Mladenovic said. “I feel well, I feel fresh and I think it’s really good to win such a tough three-setter. And I’m excited to make the final here.” In Sunday’s final Mladenovic will face either Slovakia’s second seed Dominika Cibulkova or Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, who play in the other last four encounter. — AFP