Garbine Muguruza Survives Another Titanic Three-Set Battle - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

WTA

Garbine Muguruza Survives Another Titanic Three-Set Battle

Published

on

The 2017 Wimbledon champion overcame the challenge from an inspired Svetlana Kuznetsova in one of the best women’s matches of the tournament.

Garbine Muguruza (zimbio.com)

By Todd Muffie

CINCINNATI – With the rain delaying most of Thursday’s play at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Friday’s session was blessed with a bright sunny day and a mixture of clouds. With temperatures already reaching 85° F at 11 in the morning, the conditions certainly appeared to be more brutal court-side than on paper despite a slight breeze.

Today’s first match on Center Court featured the clash between two Grand Slam champions, the No. 4-seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain and the No. 8-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. The Spaniard is enjoying her rise to the top of the women’s game while her Russian opponent has been a fixture on the WTA Tour since turning pro in 2000. The two players have met five times in the past with Muguruza getting the better of the Russian in four of the five matches that were played. Kuznetsova won their first meeting and then Muguruza took the reins by winning the next four, including two this year. Their last clash was just a month ago in the Wimbledon quarterfinals with a final score of 6-3 6-4 in Muguruza’s favor.

Despite the head-to-head being in the Spaniard’s favor, throughout the years Kuznetsova has proven that she can never be counted out of a match. The Russian can beat any player on any given day when she is on her game.

Today’s match started off with Muguruza playing an extremely aggressive style of tennis. This forced Kuznetsova to play too defensively from the first point. Muguruza was planted on the baseline hitting the ball with enough accuracy and speed to force the Russian five or six feet at the back of the court. Kuznetsova on the other hand was trying to retrieve as many balls as possible but unfortunately her efforts resulted in unforced errors. Muguruza raced to a 3-0 lead, but Kuznetsova managed to make the first set competitive by breaking back and pulling within a game at 3-2. This was the perfect time for Kuznetsova to call for her on-court coaching. This was also the moment in which the vocal contest started. Kuznetsova is mostly silent during her matches until the tension rises and her presence is heard. Muguruza is instead much more consistent with her vocal talents.

Embed from Getty Images

At 3-2 Kuznetsova started to make her move. The sixth game of the first set was by far the longest of the match with a total of 24 points and four break chances for Kuznetsova. This was the pivotal game of the first set and Muguruza took it by the narrowest of margins. The Spaniard eventually won the set 6-2, but the score could have been even at 3-3 if Kuznetsova had converted on one of her four break chances.

The second set started in the same fashion as the first, with Muguruza breaking Kuznetsova in the opening game and eventually going up 3-1. Kuznetsova was still having difficulty closing her service games while her opponent was holding hers with ease. Kuznetsova started to mount her comeback in the fifth game of the second set. She started to play closer to the baseline and refused to let Muguruza push her around. The match turned into a battle and the level of play was high on both sides of the net at the same time. This was also another moment when the vocals were heard loud and clear: Even the most distracted spectator was commenting on the decibel level. Kuznetsova eventually won the second set 7-5 to the delight of the fans that were cheering for a close match.

Before starting the third set, Muguruza called for the trainer. Her left thigh was bandaged throughout the entire match and everyone was wondering if she really needed medical attention or was simply trying to change the momentum of the match.

Embed from Getty Images

The third set was the most competitive and beautiful of the match. Both players held their serve until the eleventh game, when Muguruza managed to find a way to break Kuznetsova’s serve with a little help from her opponent. The last game was looking to be a straight-forward hold for the match with Muguruza going up 40-0 and three match points, but you can never count the Russian out. Kuznetsova fought back to deuce, but this proved to be her last swan song in this match. Muguruza won the next two points and took the match 6-2 5-7 7-5.

In her post-match press conference, Garbiñe talked about how she feels more experienced and relaxed dealing with the pressure of being a Grand Slam champion. The Spaniard seemed to be relieved after surviving back-to-back colossal battles against quality opponents such as Keys and Kuznetsova. She also expressed how she feels comfortable being a top player, which represented a clear statement about her mindset going into the US Open.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Latest news

Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

Published

on

image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

Continue Reading

WTA

Wimbledon Finalist Jasmine Paolini – ‘I’m A Little Bit Scared To Dream Too Much’

Published

on

After coming close to her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, Jasmine Paolini believes consistency is key to having another shot at glory.

The 28-year-old dropped only one set en route to becoming the first Italian woman to reach a Wimbledon final. However, she was denied the title by Barbora Krejcikova, who won in three sets. Paolini was broken once in the decider which was due to a double fault from the Italian following an unsuccessful hawk-eye challenge made on her first serve. Then she failed to convert two break points when down 4-5 before Krejcikova held to seal glory.

“I started bad,” she reflected afterwards.

“I took some time and try to relax and to come back in the second set stronger to try to push the ball more because I was a little bit controlling too much, and I missed a lot of shots.

“She was playing, honestly, very good the first set. She was serving really, really good. High percentage of first serves.

“It was tough but I think I did better than the last final (at the French Open), but still it’s not enough.”

Prior to Saturday, Paolini had scored wins over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Medison Keys (via retirement) and a marathon victory over Donna Vedic. She has now won 15 Grand Slam matches in 2024 compared to just one last season.

The defeat comes less than two months after the French Open where Paolini contested her first major final but lost in two sets to world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Since the start of this season, she has risen more than 20 places in the rankings and will reach No.5 on Monday.

Despite being in her late 20s, the Italian is producing some of her best tennis on the Tour. Something she credits to a combination of things. 

“I improved my game a little bit. I believe more in myself. I improved my serve. I think I improve the return.” She explained.

“I think physically I’m better than two years ago. I’ve been working with a new fitness coach for one-and-a-half years.

“There are many things, I think. Not just one. I think also winning matches helps a lot.”

Whilst she is heading in the right direction on the Tour, Paolini has vowed not to get too ahead of herself.

“Sometimes I’m a little bit scared to dream too much.” she said.

“I’m going back, trying to practice and stay in the present. This is the goal for me and my team, to try to keep this level as much as possible.

“If I keep this level, I think I can have the chance to do great things.

“Today I was dreaming of holding the (Wimbledon) trophy but it didn’t go well.

“I’m just enjoying the position where I am right now.”

Paolini has won 30 out of 43 matches on the Tour so far this season.

Continue Reading

Latest news

Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

Published

on

Image via x.com/twitter

The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending