2016 champion and former world #1 Garbine Muguruza will look to return to the French Open quarterfinals when she takes on Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko, who is the last unseeded player standing along with Yulia Putintseva, who has already booked her place in the quarterfinals. With the winner due to face Maria Sharapova, will it be a rematch for Muguruza who lost to the Russian in the last eight four years ago or will it be a first Major quarterfinal for Tsurenko?
Muguruza and Tsurenko have met twice so far in their careers and the head-to-head is tied at one win apiece. It was Tsurenko who got the first victory, defeating Muguruza 7-5 6-1 in 2015 on the hard courts in Toronto at the Rogers Cup in the Spaniard’s first match since reaching the Wimbledon final (lost to S. Williams). Muguruza avenged that defeat last year in Wuhan, defeating Tsurenko 6-4 6-4 in the first round.
Path to the fourth round
Muguruza, seeded third in Paris, began her campaign for a second French Open title by defeating a fellow former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets, 7-6 6-2. She scored another straight sets win against young French wildcard Fiona Ferro, defeating the 21-year-old 6-4 6-3. She then delivered comfortably her best performance of the clay court season to dismiss Samantha Stosur, who was a finalist in Paris seven years ago, 6-0 6-2.
Tsurenko has endured a rather more difficult path to the fourth round at Roland Garros. She opened her tournament with a battling three set victory over Switzerland’s Stefanie Vogele, recovering from dropping the first set to win 4-6 6-2 6-2. Tsurenko again dropped the first set against Coco Vandeweghe, but finished strongly to win 4-6 6-3 6-0. She was more comfortable in defeating Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4 6-2 to reach the fourth round in Paris for the first time.
How do they match up?
Muguruza will look to control this match from the back of the court with her powerful groundstrokes. Her forehand is the better of the two, but her backhand is a dangerous weapon none-the-less, particularly when the Spaniard takes it up the line. The world #3 has, however, left serious room for improvement on her serve so far in Paris, having averaged above 60% of first serves made in only one of her three matches.
Tsurenko can’t match the power that Muguruza brings to the court, but she does have quality of her own. She hits her forehand with a large amount of topspin, which can lead to it falling short, something the Ukrainian will have to be conscious of in this match. But she also uses angles to very good effect as a result of that heavy topspin, which could serve her well against Muguruza, who she is unlikely to beat in a baseline duel.
Tsurenko has played impressively to defeat two seeds so far in Paris and has unquestionably earned her spot in the second week. But it is hard to see an outcome here other than a Muguruza victory. The Spaniard looks like she’s getting into the sort of form that saw her win the French Open and Wimbledon in back-to-back years, and if her dominant victory over Stosur is anything to go by, she should be considered a real threat. There are players left in the draw good enough to stop her, but Tsurenko is probably not one of them. Muguruza in straight sets.