Former Champion Garbine Muguruza Admits French Open Fight Will Not Be Easy - UBITENNIS
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Former Champion Garbine Muguruza Admits French Open Fight Will Not Be Easy

The former world No.1 reflects on her opening win in Paris.

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Garbine Muguruza (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

19th seed Garbine Muguruza knows she has her work cut out as she embarks upon her seventh consecutive appearance at the French Open.

 

The 2016 champion kicked-off her Roland Garros campaign with a roller-coaster victory over Taylor Townsend. Prior to the grand slam, she has only managed to win two matches on the clay and has recently been hindered by injury. Meanwhile, her American opponent has the style of game which could cause her difficulty. Townsend won both singles and doubles titles at an ITF $100,000 in Charleston on the dirt earlier this month.

Despite the threat, an at times frustrated Muguruza overcame some inconsistency in her shot-making to prevail 5-7, 6-2, 6-2. Hitting 37 winners to 29 unforced errors and winning 72% of her first service points. The latest win is Muguruza’s 25th in the tournament. She has won more matches in Paris than at any other grand slam.

“I knew it was going to be a challenge no matter who my opponent was. We always know that the first rounds are difficult. It’s the first match of a Grand Slam, it’s a little adventure.” Muguruza said during her press conference.

During what was the first match to take place on the newly built Simona Mathieu Court, Muguruza failed to find her consistency throughout the opening set. Allowing Townsend to expose her vulnerabilities on the court. After trading breaks midway, the American managed to breakthrough whilst leading 6-5. As Muguruza serve to stay in contention, the 23-year-old pounce by racing to a 40-0 advantage. She then secured the 7-5 lead with the help of a near-perfect forehand winner down the line.

Since making her debut at Roland Garros back in 2013, Muguruza has never lost in the first round of the tournament. Determined to uphold that record, she battled back with a clinical two-set performance. Securing a double break in both frames, the 25-year-old increased the aggressiveness of her shot-making for force her opponent to make errors. In what was a dramatic change of momentum, Muguruza closed out the match by winning 12 out of 16 games played. Booking her place in the second round with the help of a delicate forehand drop shot winner.

“Playing Taylor, she had a different style of game, a very lefty player. Super talented. So it took me a while to feel better in the court, to get the rhythm, to to have a game plan.” Muguruza explained.
“It was a tough match. I’m happy to go through.”

Muguruza enters this year’s tournament in a somewhat different mindset to 12 months ago where she was the third seed. At 19th in the world, she is battling to stay within the world’s top 20. A position she has held continuously since June 2015. The only silver lining is that few are pinning their title hopes of her, which gives the Spaniard less expectation to live up to.

“I felt more at ease than last year, because I’m not really fighting for my title.” She said.
“But it’s not always easy to start a tournament. I try to go as far as possible. We always have a lot of pressure. But I don’t ask myself the question all the time. Sometimes in the past, I was focusing too much on these aspects that were putting pressure on me.”

With women’s tennis known for its unpredictability, it may be a bit unfair to dismiss Muguruza’s title chances completely. After all, she is a two-time grand slam champion and former world No.1.

“I think to win a Grand Slam you don’t only have to play beautiful and have great shots. It’s a combination of having the X factor, because everybody plays well, but only a few can win Grand Slams.” She explained.
“I think a very complete player, having the courage, having the consistency of winning many matches, dealing with the pressure of being in a Grand Slam and advancing. It’s a puzzle that you’ve got to put together, and it’s not easy.”

Muguruza reached the semi-finals of the French Open last year. She will play Sweden’s Johanna Larsson in the second round.

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Madison Keys Marches Into Cincinnati Final With Win Over Kenin

Madison Keys set up a intriguing final against Svetlana Kuznetsova with an excellent straight-sets win over Sofia Kenin in the semi-finals.

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Madison Keys (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

Madison Keys advanced to her ninth career final with an impressive 7-5 6-4 win over Sofia Kenin at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

The American, 24, has endured a patchy year on the WTA tour. But she found a rich vein of form in the early rounds to defeat Garbine Muguruza, Daria Kasatkina and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep.

And by the time Keys set about dispatching Venus Williams in straight sets in the quarter-final, she looked full of confidence.

The World No.18 started in similar fashion against Kenin. She dominated her first two service games and broke the younger American in the fourth game to establish a 3-1 lead. She then held off a couple of break points in game five to increase her advantage to 4-1.

But Kenin is a fighter and she had no intention of giving up on the set. She broke Keys in game nine to make it 5-4 and then saved two break points to level the score.

The older American did not panic. She held serve comfortably and then hit a couple of excellent winners to break the 20-year-old for the second time in the set and take it 7-5.

Keys triumphs in close second set

There were a few momentum swings in the second set. Keys held to love in the first game but dropped her serve during a sloppy third game. Kenin then consolidated the break with a comfortable hold.

In response, the World No.18 fired down three aces as she held serve to love in just 42 seconds. She then unleashed a stream of winners to break the younger American and level the score at 3-3.

Both women played superb return games as they traded breaks to move the score along to 4-4. Then Keys unleashed a series of ferocious groundstrokes to repel a break point and hold for 5-4.

After an intense conversation with her father at the changeover, Kenin looked a bit subdued in game ten. She sent down a weak second serve on the second point which was punished by a backhand winner from the World No.18.

The 20-year-old made a double-fault to slip 15-30 behind. Then she came into the net and could only watch and admire as Keys guided a sublime backhand pass into the opposite service box for a winner that set up two match points.

The World No.18 did not have to wait long to celebrate victory, as an unforced error from Kenin on the next point sealed her win.

Keys will play Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final. The Russian continued her impressive week with an eye-catching 6-2 6-4 win over World No.2 Ashleigh Barty.

“I’m very happy to be in the final,” the American said. “Sveta has been playing incredibly well. She is a craftier player with a little bit of everything. It will be a pretty difficult match but I’m looking forward to it.”

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Madison Keys sets up an all-American semifinal against Sofia Kenin in Cincinnati

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Madison Keys hit 32 winners and never dropped her serve in her 6-2 6-3 win over Venus Williams in 77 minutes in an all-American quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach her first semifinal since winning the Volvo Car Open title in Charleston.

 

Keys broke three times and faced just two break points in the match. She earned her first break in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead, as Venus made three double faults. Keys went up a double break at 15 to seal the first set 6-3.

Williams saved four break points to hold her serve in the fourth game for 2-2, after hitting her first winner of the match, but Keys sealed the win with her only break in the eighth game of the second set and a hold at love setting up an all-American semifinal clash against Sofia Kenin

“It was nice to see against a really aggressive player like Venus being able to defend as well as I did. Overall, I am pretty happy with almost everything I did tonight. I am happy with how well I served. She is a very good returner, and being able to have fairly straightforward service games was my favourite part. The biggest thing, after having a couple of tough losses in the last tournaments I have played, being able to bounce back, and especially after my first round here, being able to get that win and then just building on that”,said Keys.

 

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Svetlana Kuznetsova completes her come-back by reaching the semifinal in Cincinnati

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Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova came back from one set down to beat Karolina Pliskova 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 to secure her spot in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

Kuznetsova, who was sidelined by a knee injury in the first half of the season, bounced back last week when she reached the third round at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. She beat Anastasija Sevastova, Dayana Yastremska and Sloane Stephens en route to the semifinal.

Kuznetsova hit 30 winners and broke three times to close out the match after 2 hours and 23 minutes.

Pliskova converted her only break point at love in the second game to win the opening set 6-3.

Pliskova saved three break points to hold serve at deuce in the fourth game before breaking serve at 15 to take a 4-3 lead. Kuznetsova broke back at 15 in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Kuznetsova earned four set points and converted her first chance to seal the tie-break 7-2.

Kuznetsova went up a break at love in the third game of the decisive set to take a 2-1 lead. Both Pliskova and Kuznetsova saved two break points in the fifth and sixth games. Kuznetsova sealed the win with a double break in the ninth game.

The Russian player set up a semifinal against 2019 Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty, who came back from one set down to beat Maria Sakkari 5-7 6-2 6-0.

 

 

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