Spanish #1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza will look to put a difficult few months behind her when she takes on Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine in Cincinnati. After ascending to the top of the rankings last year, Muguruza has failed to press on as she would have hoped to, and though she has had good results this season, few have matched her high standards. And Tsurenko, once ranked as high as 29th in the world, will be eager to add to her troubles. Who will come out on top?
Muguruza and Tsurenko have met three-times so far in their careers in a head-to-head the Spaniard leads 2-1. Their first match came three years ago in Toronto in the second round, and it was the Ukrainian who won as she dismissed Muguruza 7-5 6-1. But last year in Wuhan, Muguruza had her revenge with a 6-4 6-4 win in the second round. They clashed again at Roland Garros earlier in May, but Tsurenko was forced to retire after just two games.
Path to the second round
As one of the top eight seeds in Cincinnati, Muguruza received a first-round bye and thus her match against Tsurenko will be her first in Ohio. In fact, it is her first since losing in the second round at Wimbledon to Alison Van Uytvanck, a defeat which made her the first defending champion to lose before the third round at the Championships since Steffi Graf in 1994. She then withdrew from both the San Jose Classic and the Canadian Open with an arm injury.
Tsurenko has also had injury problems to contend with this year and they resurfaced in Montreal. After impressing in a 6-4 6-2 win over British wildcard Katie Boulter in the first round, she was forced to retire trailing 4-6 2-3 to Carla Suarez Navarro in the second round. But she looked back to full fitness in the first round in Cincinnati where she took on Danielle Collins of the USA. It did not prove much of a contest as Tsurenko advanced a 6-0 6-2 winner.
How do they match up?
Muguruza will look to dominate this match from the back of the court with clean and powerful hitting. She hits her forehand with less spin than many on the Tour, but is nonetheless generally able to find great accuracy with it. Her backhand is also excellent and she uses it down the line to impressive effect, which Tsurenko will need to be wary of. Her serve lacks the quality of her groundstrokes, but it is difficult to attack and usually provides her with more aces than double faults.
Tsurenko lacks the easy power of Muguruza, but is anyway more comfortable when defending than when on the front foot. She tends to hit her forehand with quite heavy topspin, but has flattened it out on hard courts in the past. Her backhand is her biggest weapon and when given time on the ball Tsurenko has the confidence and quality to step in and go after it. Like Muguruza she will look to drill it down the line when she can.
Tsurenko looked very impressive against Collins in the first round and though Muguruza represents a significant step up in quality, it is one Tsurenko can make. She has beaten the Spaniard in similar conditions before and should be well-adjusted to the hard courts. Muguruza, in contrast, hasn’t played a hard court match since Miami and is not all together comfortable on the surface at any rate nor is she likely to be fully fit. That seems the perfect recipe for a Tsurenko upset win.