With the news that Serena Williams is out of the tournament, Garbine Muguruza is one of just three former champions remaining in the draw – alongside Simona Halep and Jelena Ostapenko. In the friendlier bottom half of the draw, she will hope to mount a strong run this fortnight. She faces Kristyna Pliskova for a spot in the third round.
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Pliskova plays much like her sister, only with less consistency in her serve and forehand. The Czech has not had a notable run at slams in recent times but can be depended on in WTA Internationals, where she often performs strongly in both singles and doubles. Her recent run to the Prague semi final included Petra Martic, who is no slouch on clay. Pliskova cruised through her opener with Viktoria Kuzmova, dropping just three games against the Slovakian.
Muguruza had a much tougher time in opener, needing nearly three hours to advance against Tamara Zidansek 7-5 4-6 8-6. The more traditional clay court players have been thriving so far this week and it was going Zidansek’s way for much of this one too. Eventually, the Spaniard made a breakthrough against the Slovenian’s defence at 6-6 and held to close out the match. “It’s a good win. In the end, you’re out there and it was a tough battle and you manage to get the win, so it feels great,” Muguruza said after. “It’s definitely a challenge physically with the conditions and such a long match. But I’m happy. It’s always tough the first rounds.”
Muguruza should find this one a bit more routine, taking on an aggressive player without the consistency of herself. Pliskova’s big clay wins against higher ranked players have usually been against those with a more defensive game rather than aggressive players like herself.
Prediction – Garbine Muguruza in straight sets