Mladenovic happy flying solo at RG

 - Michael Beattie

No coach, no problem, last year's Roland-Garros quarter-finalist tells Roland Magazine.

Kristina Mladenovic pose pour ©Marcel Hartmann pour "Roland"/FFT

It was the match heard across Paris in 2017.

Kristina Mladenovic, backed by a cacophanous Court Suzanne-Lenglen crowd, knocked out defending Roland-Garros champion Garbine Muguruza to reach the quarter-finals. One year on, the 25-year-old spoke to Roland before her return for the season’s second major.

Roland-Garros will always have a particularly special place in Mladenovic’s heart, and not simply because it's her home Grand Slam event. In 2009, she won the junior title – “on one leg,” as she tells Roland, an experience that has had a lasting impact on her professional career.

“It’s pretty obvious it strengthened my resolve," she said. "It gave me maturity and experience earlier than most. Since that day, it’s always very special for me to come play at Roland.”

Mladenovic is currently without a coach, though among her advisers is Serbian player Janko Tipsarevic as he makes his own way back from injury.

“I can’t really picture a coach who hasn’t had a career of his own,” she said. “Otherwise what is he bringing to the table? At the level at which we play, it’s not really the technical details that matter, let’s face it. Today, I need a good tactician with a lot of experience. What I like best is having a former player by myself, who knows what I’m going through, and who helps with his or her skills and experience.”



But even without the watchful eye of an outsider, Mladenovic takes pride in the self-discipline that brought her a first WTA singles title in St Petersburg last season, joining her 17 doubles crowns.

“The truth is I spend more time at the gym than on a court,” she said. “You must really know high-stakes sport to understand that one can be strong without looking extremely buff. It’s the engine underneath that matters most. Even some of the people close to me do not realise that: they think I’m focused on my silhouette, but when they come to the gym and see me lifting 150kg, they can hardly believe their eyes.”

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