A surging Garbine Muguruza will look to book her place in the Australian Open semi-final for the first time on Wednesday, taking on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a spot in the last four. It would be the Russian’s first slam semi final of any kinda, with a 0-5 quarter final record likely to be weighing heavy on her mind coming into this one.
Pavyluchenkova has to be considered one of the biggest underachievers in the women’s game after a prolific junior career that promised so much. She remains capable of playing great attacking tennis but her swings from match to match have always been a problem but should she improve her consistency, she will be a far more dangerous player on the tour. Her toughness was on full display in beating Angelique Kerber, 6-7 7-6 6-2. The third set was pretty comfortable for her, remaining fairly untroubled after racing into a double break lead. “I was there pretty much every point – I mean, I tried to,” she said. “That always, I think, pays off – or at least that gives you some sort of confidence. Sometimes there were some moments or matches where I didn’t feel my best or I didn’t play my best, but I still was there.”
Muguruza has been a revelation this fortnight after a fairly disappointing run of form over the past few years. The Spaniard, now reunited with Conchita Martinez, has been dominant in her past two matches – dropping just 9 games combined in wins over top 10 players Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens. “I played my game, aggressive game. Right away, I felt it was working. I remember that she beat me, that’s for sure.” she said. “I think I’m a different player now. Completely different. We both like the baseline. I found a way to disturb her game.”
If Muguruza has refound the form that saw her win Wimbledon and the French Open, it will be a major boost to the tour. She is hard to beat at her explosive best but something had just not been ticking recently. “I feel good in this tournament. I’m super concentrated on every single match, especially because I started the tournament so-so. I feel like my body’s getting healthier. It’s a Grand Slam, we are all very concentrated here. For me, it’s one of the tournaments that motivates me the most.” she said. Pavlyuchenkova is strong enough to take advantage of down periods but if it comes to pure power, Muguruza will have the edge. She is currently 4-1 against the Russian although they have not played on hard courts since 2016.
Prediction – Garbine Muguruza in three sets