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The second set was a complete reversal for the Latvian, who struggled on serve as the former champion and 2018 finalist leveled the match without losing a game. Mladenovic has played some of her best tennis in St. Petersburg, winning her first title two years ago and shrugging off early 2018 struggles to make the final for a second straight year.

Looking down and out to start the decider, Ostapenko, who captured a singles title in Sibur Arena back when it held an ITF Pro Circuit event in 2015, dug deep to halt Mladenovic’s ostensibly insurmountable momentum, roaring through the final six games to book a second round clash with Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

In all, the former World No.5 struck 25 winners to 35 unforced errors, but was particularly impressive on key points, converting six of seven break point opportunities.  Mladenovic, by contrast, managed just eight winners to 20 unforced errors, as the Australian Open women’s doubles finalist leaves St. Petersburg in search of her first singles win of the season.

Pavlyuchenkova won a tense two-setter against Alizé Cornet earlier in the evening, and will be looking to reverse an 0-2 head-to-head against Ostapenko, having lost their previous two clashes in straight sets.

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