Two-time Grand Slam champion and former world #1 Garbine Muguruza continues her attempt to claim a second Roland Garros crown against 21-year-old French wildcard Fiona Ferro, who is making her debut in the second round. Muguruza has had an indifferent season, highlighted by victory in Monterrey, and has won just a handful of matches this clay court season. Will Ferro be able to take advantage of her poor form or will the Spaniard’s quality ultimately tell?
This will be a first meeting between Muguruza and Ferro, which is perhaps unsurprising when it is remembered that the Frenchwoman plays the majority of her tennis away from the main Tour. But there is a real gap between their respective levels of experience. Whilst Ferro’s victory in the first round was her first at Slam-level, Muguruza’s first round win was her 53rd at a Major. Muguruza has 332 victories to Ferro’s 143. She also has six titles to Ferro’s none.
Path to the second round
Muguruza began her Roland Garros campaign against another former-French Open champion in the shape of Svetlana Kuznetsova, the one-time world #2 who lifted the title in Paris in 2009. Kuznetsova, who also won the US Open in 2004, is no longer the force she once was at 32 years-of-age and despite a valiant effort she was outmatched by the superior power and accuracy of Muguruza. The Spaniard picked up a satisfying 7-6 6-2 win to advance to the second round.
Ferro may well have started as second favourite against Germany’s Carina Witthoeft, who is ranked nearly 200 places above her at 61st in the world. But backed by the vocal support of the French crowd, Ferro delivered surely one of the best performances of her still fledgling career to oust Witthoeft and reach the second round for the first time. Witthoeft ultimately had no answers as she crashed out a 4-6 2-6 loser at the hands of Ferro.
How do they match up?
At the core of Muguruza’s sustained success throughout her career has been her excellent play off the ground. The Spaniard has two real weapons in her forehand and backhand, which she strikes with both accuracy and power. Her backhand down the line is a particularly good shot, and Muguruza uses it well, exploiting open space very well. Her serve is also formidable, although it can become a little wayward when Muguruza is not at her best.
Ferro is not short of power herself, particularly off the backhand side, which she strikes especially well when moving forward inside of the court. Her forehand is perhaps less of a strength. Whilst she can strike it powerfully enough, she appears to lack the confidence on her forehand side that she shows when hitting backhands aggressively. That lack of commitment to the shot can make the ball fly long, and Ferro will have to be wary of that, as she can ill-afford unforced errors in this clash.
Muguruza played impressively to defeat Kuznetsova, and her performance in that match against the wily veteran suggests she will have enough to get past Ferro in this match. As well as the 21-year-old played against Witthoeft, Muguruza presents a greater challenge and it is not one that Ferro looks ready to surpass. The Spaniard’s power and accuracy from the back of the court will see her overwhelm Ferro in straight sets.