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Kristina Mladenovic earns first title at St. Petersburg

By
The Sports Xchange
Kristina Mladenovic of France. Photo by David Silpa/UPI
Kristina Mladenovic of France. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

Kristina Mladenovic claimed the first WTA title of her career by outlasting Yulia Putintseva 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-4 in the championship match of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy in Russia on Sunday.

The 23-year-old Frenchwoman upset Australian Open semifinalist Venus Williams and defending champ Roberta Vinci during her tournament run before holding off a strong effort from the unseeded Putintseva.

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"I have no words, really, to express what I feel right now," the unseeded Mladenovic said after the match. "This win means a lot to me. It was my fourth final, and I'd lost three before that. The wait was definitely worth it because this tournament is just amazing, from the organization all week to the show at the end.

"It was amazing getting to face so many top players, and clinching my first WTA title here, especially at a Premier event, I feel absolutely happy right now."

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The 22-year-old Putintseva was playing in her first WTA final and made an impressive charge in the second set to keep from being swept.

The Kazakhstan native trailed 5-2 in the set with Mladenovic serving to win the match. Putintseva broke Mladenovic's service and eventually won the tie-break to force a third set.

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Mladenovic led 5-1 in the third set before Putintseva again chipped away. She saved four championship points while winning three straight games before Mladenovic finally ended the two-hour, 36-minute match with a forehand winner.

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Mladenovic, who hit 62 winners, relished how she had to push through and fight off a charge to earn her first title.

"I believe everyone is limitless, and it's just about moving forward with the mentality," Mladenovic said. "Physically, I felt great, though sometimes the nerves made my legs feel heavy. But it came down to fighting spirit.

"This is what I love most about sports, and what pushes me to be on the court -- the more complicated things get, the more I think how much I love this and how much I want to keep battling."

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Putintseva hit 32 winners but committed 21 unforced errors.

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