Former-French Open and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza finds herself outside the top ten for the first-time in over a year after a disappointing few months, which have seen her Wimbledon title defence end in the second round and a disjointed start to her hard court campaign. But last time she encountered such problems she responded with a Grand Slam title, and will have hopes of doing the same again. But will she be able to overcome Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic?
This will be the first meeting between Muguruza and Muchova, which, when the Czech’s inexperience is considered, is hardly surprising. This is the first-time she has ever competed in the main draw of a Grand Slam, and though her career-record of 160-80 looks impressive on paper, very few of those matches have been played at Tour-level. Muguruza, in contrast, has already compiled an impressive resume with six titles, including two Majors, and a record of 340-170.
Path to the second round
Muguruza, who was forced to withdraw from the San Jose Classic and Canadian Open, before losing in the first round in Cincinnati to Lesia Tsurenko, received the difficult opening assignment of Zhang Shuai. Zhang, the Chinese #1, has twice been crowned a champion on the WTA Tour and reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne two years ago, but has not had the best of seasons. And her challenge was brushed aside by Muguruza who advanced a 6-3 6-0 winner.
Muchova’s tournament began in the qualifying. She began there with an impressive 6-1 6-7 6-1 win over fifth seed Vitalia Diatchenko, who beat Sharapova in the first round at Wimbledon. She then conquered Italy’s Jasmine Paolini in straight sets, before crushing Canada’s Francoise Abanda 6-4 6-2 to reach the main draw. There she faced the 18-year-old Dayana Yamstremka of Ukraine and beat her 6-4 6-2 to claim her first Grand Slam win.
How do they match up?
Muguruza will look to dictate proceedings in this one with her clean and powerful groundstrokes from the back of the court. Her best shot, marginally, is her forehand. She spreads the court excellently with it and she will look to get Muchova moving from the start of the match. Her backhand is an offensive weapon of some note in its own right and one Muchova will have to defend against, particularly down the line, a shot Muguruza uses to good effect.
Muchova will need her serve to be working well in order for her to advance in this one. It is her most important weapon and when it is firing, she can be hard to beat. Particularly because she has the confidence to attack the net behind it and the hands to finish off points quickly when in the forecourt. Off the ground, however, she does not have the quality to live with Muguruza for the duration of this match. Thus will she live and die by her first serve.
Though Muguruza’s form coming in to this tournament was indifferent at best, she looked very sharp in demolishing Zhang in the first round. And, with the greatest of due respect to Muchova, the Spaniard is simply a class above her. Muchova has very little experience of tennis at the highest-level, both in terms of her opponent and her surroundings. Expect Muguruza to take full advantage of that inexperience and advance a straight sets winner.