Kristina Mladenovic is embracing the expectations of France at her home Slam and using the crowd support to lift her to win.
There has been no homegrown French Open men’s champ since 1983 (Yannick Noah). And there has been no homegrown female champ since 2000 (Mary Pierce). It hasn't been for lack of candidates. France consistently produces top players, including three of the top 16 men’s seeds at this event. But player after player has been overwhelmed by a sort of artisanal pressure. Kristina Mladenovic, the 14th seed in the women’s draw has confronted expectation.
She speaks openly of being the favorite. Instead of attempted the futile act of “blocking out the crowd,” she embraces it. Her play has been up-and-down here but—in part because she’s been buoyed by the fans—she remains in the draw. Down 2-5 in the third set to American Shelby Rogers on Friday, Mladenovic decided to stop missing shots. To the delight of the crowd, she won 8-6 in the third set.
"That was epic,” she said. “I think that's the word I'm going to use today,” she said after the match. Mladenovic now faces defending champ Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round.