In a clash between a former-champion and a former finalist, Garbine Muguruza takes on Samantha Stosur for a place in the fourth round at Roland Garros. Muguruza comes into the match looking to really start the sort of run that took her to glory in Paris back in 2016 and then last year at Wimbledon. Stosur, though no longer truly counted amongst the Slam contenders, remains a dangerous player on her day. Who will come out on top?
Muguruza and Stosur, whose times at the top of the game have not really coincided, have none-the-less clashed three times at Tour-level. It was Stosur who won their first match, defeating Muguruza in 2014 in the second round in Madrid in three sets, 7-5 3-6 6-1. When they next met, the stakes were rather higher. The two faced off in 2016 in the semifinals at Roland Garros with Muguruza running out a comfortable 6-2 6-4 winner. Muguruza then defeated Stosur last year in Brisbane in three sets.
Path to the third round
Garbine Muguruza, the third seed at Roland Garros, began her campaign in Paris against another former champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova who won in Paris in 2009. The first set was a tightly contested affair until the tiebreak, which Muguruza won without losing a point. She wrapped up the win in the second set 6-2. Muguruza then reached the third round at the expense of French wildcard Fiona Ferro, despite spirited resistance from the 21-year-old, winning 6-3 6-4.
Stosur’s first match in Paris came against Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer, herself a former US Open semifinalist, reaching the last four in New York in 2009, two years before Stosur won the title. In Paris, it was all Stosur as she reached the second round courtesy of a 6-2 6-4 win. There she faced Russian 30th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and managed to defeat the higher-ranked player in straight sets 7-6 6-2 to return to the third round in Paris.
How do they match up?
Muguruza will surely look to control this encounter from the back of the court. The Spaniard is blessed with no shortage of power, enough, in fact, to take on and beat both of the Williams sisters in Grand Slam finals. The Spaniard hits her groundstrokes with less topspin than many which makes them skid through the court more. Although this leaves Muguruza with less room for error, the world #3 accounts for this by hitting aggressively to safe targets.
The same cannot be said of Sam Stosur. The Australian loads her groundstrokes with heavy topspin, particularly her forehand. Indeed, her lassoing technique reminds one quite strikingly of the great Rafael Nadal. It is with that forehand that Stosur will look to do most of the damage in this match. Her backhand provides her with less offensive options and may well be targeted by Muguruza. But, her first serve, if she is able to maintain a high percentage, could be a real factor in her favour.
When they last met in Paris, Muguruza overwhelmed Stosur in straight sets. Whilst the Spaniard is not in the sort of world beating form she was in when she won that match, nor is Stosur playing as well as she did to reach the semifinals. Stosur has the performance in her to beat Muguruza, but it's proving harder and harder for the 34-year-old to summon them. Expect Muguruza to book her place in the second round in straight sets.