Reigning Wimbledon champion and world #3 Garbine Muguruza takes on the eighth seed, Croatian-born Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, for a place in the Monterrey last four. Muguruza has had a largely frustrating start to the season, failing to win a title and losing early in Melbourne, Indian Wells and Miami. Tomljanovic, meanwhile, is close to falling out of the top 100 at world #96, but has been a top fifty player. Who will come out on top?
Muguruza and Tomljanovic have met just once so far in their careers. That meeting came four years ago at the Miami Open in the round of 64. It was won by Tomljanovic, who is the elder of the two by six months and was perhaps able to take advantage of that in a 3-6 7-6 6-1 win. Since then, however, Muguruza has gone onto reach the top of the rankings, win two Grand Slams and earn over $16 million in prize money. Tomljanovic, in contrast, has not yet won a Tour-level title.
Path to the quarterfinals
Muguruza began her Monterrey campaign against wildcard and home hope Renata Zarazua, the world #188. Zarazua, aged 20, is short of Tour-level experience and she found herself outclassed against Muguruza, unquestionably one of the world’s best. Zarazua ultimately offered little opposition as Muguruza completed a 6-1 6-1 victory. She was almost as comfortable in her victory against Alison Riske as she defeated the experienced American 6-2 6-3.
Tomljanovic has found her route to the quarterfinals rather less easy than the illustrious Spaniard’s. The Australian began her tournament by losing the first set against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia. Tomljanovic was dominant in levelling the match in the second but was unable to carry that into the hard fought decider. It went to a tiebreak, but the world #96 was able to pull out the win with the pressure on, taking it eight points to six to advance.
That set up a clash with Russian teenager Anna Blinkova. Blinkova had won a tough three setter against Rebecca Peterson of Sweden 7-6 5-7 6-4 to reach the round of 16. She looked to be feeling the effects of that match early on against Tomljanovic as the eighth seed won the opening set at a canter. But Blinkova fought back impressively in the second set, winning it 7-5, to send the match to a decider. Tomljanovic was in control of it throughout, however, and advanced a 6-2 7-5 6-2 winner.
How do they match up?
Muguruza is amongst the best attacking baseliners on the WTA Tour. The Spaniard is confident hitting aggressively with both her forehand and backhand, the latter of which is a particularly fine shot. Her backhand down the line is one of her most effective shots. As is the case with most of her generation, Muguruza is also a fine athlete and her defensive skills, whilst not of an elite level, are very impressive, allowing her to work her way back into rallies.
Tomljanovic is primarily a baseliner, though she is not averse to moving into the forecourt to finish points off at the net. Though not blessed with massive power, the Australian spreads the court well with her consistent groundstrokes. However, she may have to go for more than she usually does in this match, as against Muguruza if Tomljanovic gives her opponent too much rhythm she will likely be hit off the court.
Muguruza has been playing well in Monterrey. The field is weak compared with the tournaments Muguruza usually plays, suggesting she is looking for rhythm and match wins in Mexico. So far against Zarazua and Riske she has found that rhythm and little about those matches suggested she will be vulnerable in the quarterfinals. It would be some upset if Tomljanovic was able to repeat her victory from four years ago. Expect Muguruza to progress in straight sets.
Who do you think will win the match? Let us know in the comments below!