Defending champion Garbine Muguruza will begin her campaign for a third Grand Slam crown when she takes on British wild card Naomi Broady. The Spaniard has not quite managed to summon her very best tennis since winning the title at the All England Club last year, but she has shown throughout her career that she can tap into it at any time. Broady is making her sixth appearance at the Championships, but has just one win. Will she be able to get a second or will Muguruza prove too strong?
Muguruza and Broady have met once previously although not at Tour-level. Their encounter came in Wrexham seven years ago on hard courts with Muguruza winning in straight sets 7-5 6-2. Since then she has gone on to reach the top of the world rankings, and won six WTA titles, including the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon last year. Broady is without a singles title, and has just two career victories at Grand Slam level compared with Muguruza’s 57.
Last time out
Muguruza’s attempt to reclaim the French Open title she won in 2016 ended with a disappointingly one-sided defeat to eventual champion Simona Halep in the last four. The Spaniard then began her grass court campaign in Birmingham against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Muguruza delivered a clinical performance to win through 6-1 6-2, however she was unable to get past Barbora Strycova, losing to the Czech in straight sets in the second round.
After losing in the first round of the French Open doubles, Broady returned to singles action at the ITF tournament in Surbiton. But she was beaten there in first round action by Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 7-6 6-1. She did, however, reach the final in the doubles alongside America’s Asia Muhammad. She continued her grass court campaign in Eastbourne, but was again unable to get past the first round, losing to Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia 3-6 3-6.
How do they match up?
Muguruza has established herself as one of the world’s best thanks to powerful groundstrokes and impressive athleticism. She is neither one of the outright biggest hitters nor best movers, but she is also without any glaring weaknesses, which goes some way to explaining her consistent success across all surfaces. She has also proved able to up the ante in terms of her aggression when playing on a grass court, aided by her competence in the forecourt.
Unlike her younger brother Liam, whose serve has long been a weakness, Broady is at her best when stepping to the line. She also deploys a powerful one-handed backhand, a relative rarity in the women’s game, unlike the ATP where the shot has endured in comparatively greater numbers. However, although Broady’s backhand is a weapon when she is feeling confident on the shot and has the time to wind it up, when under pressure it is also prone to breaking down.
Broady has been handed a tough draw indeed, but the chance to step out on to Centre Court should be a welcome one for a player who has long paid her dues at the smaller events and has not received the attention of her more successful compatriots. Unfortunately for Broady, against an opponent of Muguruza’s quality she won’t be able to get the fairy tale victory. The Spaniard will have too much power and accuracy and will reach the second round a straight sets victor.