Kristina Mladenovic: History Repeating?
TAIPEI, Chinese Taipei
- It was a breakthrough second half of 2012 for Kristina Mladenovic - first WTA semifinal at Québec City, first WTA $125 title at Taipei, Top 100 debut, a pair of WTA doubles titles in Canada, too - so what's next on the list for the ultra-talented, hard-hitting French teenager?
A little bit of history repeating, she hopes - for Mladenovic had a very impressive junior career.
"I was No.1 in juniors when I was 16, I won Roland Garros, finalist at Wimbledon, semifinals of US Open - I'm motivated to copy that performance at this level," Mladenovic said. "My dream is to be No.1. I'm aware it's a big thing to be No.1 and it's a really long road to get there, but I'm working very hard."
And what about which Grand Slam she would love to win the most? "I'm definitely looking forward to winning a Grand Slam," she said. "All four have their own unique qualities - I'm French, so Roland Garros would obviously be something more special, and I already felt that emotion in the juniors, so why not at the pro level? But while I love Paris, I have a special love for grass, too. So maybe Wimbledon.
"It's a long term goal, though. I'm still young and I only just entered the Top 100 in the WTA rankings."
There was no better way to keep that rise up the ranks going than winning her biggest title to date at the WTA $125 stop in Taipei last month, and that wasn't all - she also captured the doubles title there.
"It was my fourth time in Taipei so that means I really liked it, no?" Mladenovic said. "The first time I was in Taipei was when it was an ITF. I was going to play a big junior tournament in Osaka, and because I was coming from France it was good to have a few tournaments in a row going into it. So I just continued the trip through Asia and went to Osaka. I've kept including Taipei on my calendar.
"This year I actually went to Asia just for that tournament, so it means I really love it!"
And on the city? "I've been around the city a lot. I haven't gone too far from the hotel, but I've been to all the stores, and I went shopping with my mom for a dress for the player party... it's a very nice city!"
You only have to go as far as Mladenovic's immediate family to explain her impressive athletic skills.
"As an athlete, I really have to thank my parents," she said. "My dad was a pro handball player, playing for the national team in ex-Yugoslavia - now it's Serbia. My mother was a pro volleyball player, also playing for the national team in ex-Yugoslavia. I also have a younger brother, he's 16, and he's a very talented soccer player. He's still in school but he's very talented and looking to become professional."
Needless to say, Mladenovic will be one to watch in the 2013 season.