In a clash between the top two seeds, world #3 and two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza takes on former Monterrey champion Timea Babos for the title. Muguruza arrived in Monterrey searching for rhythm and match wins after a trying first quarter of the season that had seen her lose too early too often at the biggest tournaments. Now in the final, she will surely want to cap what has been a profitable week in that regard with a title. But Babos, who won in Monterrey six years ago, will equally be eager to reclaim the title. Who will come out on top?
Muguruza and Babos have met four times so far in their careers and it is the Spaniard that has come away with the victory every time. Their first clash came seven years ago in Mestre, Italy in the round of 16, which Muguruza won after recovering from a set down. A five-year break in the rivalry ensued before the pair met three times in 2016. Muguruza won all three matches in straight sets in Qatar, Stuttgart and Cincinnati.
Path to the final
Muguruza began her Monterrey campaign with a dominant victory against 20-year-old Mexican wildcard Renata Zarazua. Zarazua, the world #188, was short on experience against the game’s best and found it to be a chastening one against Muguruza as she was defeated 6-1 6-1. The Spaniard backed that win up with another impressive performance against the experienced Alison Riske, defeating the American 6-2 6-3.
That put her into the quarterfinals where she faced off against the eighth seeded Ajla Tomljanovic. The Croatian-born Australian was outclassed by Muguruza from start to finish in an encounter she never truly came to grips with. Muguruza advanced swiftly a 6-3 6-0 winner. She made a fast start against her semifinal opponent, Ana Bogdan, winning the first set to love. Bogdan put up more resistance in the second, but a late break handed Muguruza the set and the win, 6-0 7-5.
Babos opened in Monterrey against the Czech Republic’s Maria Bouzkova, defeating the teenaged qualifier 6-3 6-4. She backed that win up with a hard-fought three set triumph over Naomi Broady of Great Britain, dropping the second set but winning in three, 6-3 6-7 7-5. Babos was more comfortable against Rio gold medallist Monica Puig as she won 6-4 6-4. She reached the final with a seesawing 1-6 6-2 6-2 victory over Sachia Vickery of the United States.
How do they match up?
Muguruza’s approach to this match will surely rely heavily on her ability to dominate from the baseline. The world #3 possesses one of the best backhands in the game. Her two-hander is usually a rock solid shot, which she can also use as a weapon. She excels at taking it down the line to open up the court. Her serve and forehand are also useful weapons, and Babos will likely have to spend a fair amount of the match on the back foot.
Most of the 24-year-old Babos’ success has come in doubles rather than singles. The Hungarian won the Australian Open in the discipline this year, and has also twice been a runner-up at Wimbledon. Though not amongst the biggest hitters on Tour, she possesses a dangerous forehand that she is capable of hitting for winners. Babos is also, unsurprisingly considering her doubles success, a proficient volleyer and would do well to attack the net against Muguruza.
Though Babos represents a marked step up in the quality of her opponent, Muguruza should still have enough to get the win. She has been playing with confidence all week and looks to be striking her groundstrokes with real authority once more. Babos, though a fine player, lacks the weapons to knock Muguruza out of that rhythm and does not cover the court well enough to negate Muguruza’s power. Expect the world #3 to lift the title after a straight sets win.
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