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Maria Sharapova looks ahead to Kristina Mladenovic battle as Caroline Wozniacki counts herself lucky

Sharapova looks ahead to Mladenovic battle as Wozniacki counts herself lucky
Sharapova weel meet Mladenovic (Picture: NurPhoto via Getty)

Maria Sharapova has been handed a testing tie with 2017 Madrid Open runner-up Kristina Mladenovic after securing back-to-back wins for the first time since January.

The Russian beat Romanian pair Mihaela Buzarnescu and Irina-Camelia Begu in her opening matches at the Caja Magica to set up an even tougher test against the world No. 22, who has enjoyed good results in the Spanish capital in the past.

Mladenovic, 24, suffered a narrow defeat to Simona Halep in last years final but will now face a severe test of her credentials on Wednesday against the five-time Grand Slam champion.

And the 31-year-old gave an insight into what challenges Mladenovic brings to the table.

I think theres a lot of variety off her backhand, Sharapova said. She doesnt like to hit through the backhand as much as she does on the forehand.

Sharapova looks ahead to Mladenovic battle as Wozniacki counts herself lucky
Mladenovic will meet Sharapova in the next round (Picture: Getty)

You see a lot more of her, especially on the defence, slicing and drop-shotting. Thats not a secret because weve played against each other a few times, even though its been about a year.

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But, yeah, she also likes to play aggressive as well. I dont think defence is really her ultimate style of play. I think she also likes to attack and prefers that, as well.

Mladenovic won a dramatic encounter between the pair in the semi-finals of Stuttgart in 2017 in what was Sharapovas first tournament back on tour following a 15-month drugs ban.

Though there will be less of a spotlight on their third meeting, the Russian looked back fondly at a tournament thats proved to be one of the few highs during a difficult comeback.

Sharapova looks ahead to Mladenovic battle as Wozniacki counts herself lucky
Sharapova beat Begu (Picture: Getty)

Its really tough to look back and to remember where I was exactly, Sharapova added. But I mean, based on what I remember, although it was a difficult match to lose, I think it was just nice to get that event out of the way, I guess, in many aspects.

To play the amount of sets that I did there, four days in a row, especially not hitting one ball on-site until my first round.

I think there were a lot of – not just from that match – good things I took away. But obviously just the feeling of being back.

Caroline Wozniacki, meanwhile, fought back from 2-4 down in the third against Ash Barty.

Sharapova looks ahead to Mladenovic battle as Wozniacki counts herself lucky
Wozniacki had a tough match (Picture: Getty)

The Dane eventually triumphed 6-2 4-6 6-4 but admitted she was somewhat fortunate to come away with the win.

She played extremely well, I thought, Wozniacki said after the match. She wasnt making any errors at one point.

I think it kind of turned around when I got that net cord. It went over. Instead of being 5-2 for her in the third, I still had a chance to kind of survive.

I think thats where it changed a little bit. I just kind of, you know, stayed in it. Then I served pretty well to close it off.

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