Garbiñe Muguruza got off to a winning start at the WTA Finals after defeating Lucie Safarova in three sets in their first round-robin match of the White Group. After Serena Williams’ withdrawal and injuries to Maria Sharapova in the second half of the season, the Spaniard went on a hot run during the Asian swing to secure herself as one of the top two seeds this year to ensure herself she won’t meet top-seeded Simona Halep until at least the semifinals should they both advance. It was a straight sets win for the Wimbledon finalist winning 6-3, 7-6(4).
Muguruza Keeps Pressure Early On
Safarova looked in trouble to start off the match getting pushed to a couple of deuces. In her second service game though, trouble arose as she fell behind 0-30. On that point, Safarova had control of the point but her intended putaway volley was hit too deep to give the Spaniard time to get to it. The following drop volley stayed for Muguruza to hit it away from the Czech lefty which forced a lob from her and was putaway accordingly from the Spaniard. After saving three break points, Safarova could not save a fourth as a blistering backhand return forced Safarova to try and just get it back over, but it found the net.
The struggles continued to compound for Safarova as the Spaniard made her way into all the Czech’s service games as she saved break points in the fifth and seventh games as well. Meanwhile, the second-seeded Spaniard was holding without any problems whatsoever. Muguruza went 15-40 up in the ninth game and only needed the second set point to take the set as Safarova hit a forehand long.
Safarova Strikes Quickly But Muguruza Rebounds To Take It In Straights
After getting broken for the first time in the opening game, Muguruza had to rebound from behind. She showed off her tremendous defensive skills and wheels in the opening point of the third game as she tracked down the lefty’s drop shots and angled groundstrokes. The Spaniard made her mark in the sixth game by continuing to punish Safarova with powerful groundstrokes and at 30-all, hit a cross-court forehand winner to set up break point which she converted.
Safarova held the all-important eighth game as she was in danger of being broken a second time in the set and for a fourth time in the match. The Spaniard failed to convert her four break opportunities that game which the Czech finished off with a forehand winner down the line. It was then her turn to put her opponent on the backfoot with two break opportunities of her own but was unable to turn them into anything.
In the tiebreaker, the Spaniard began to turn up the heat as she flew out to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak. Safarova leveled it on serve however with a fantastic forehand which left her opponent on the run. Down 4-5, the Czech kept pounding away at the Muguruza backhand and nearly scored a winner on a scorching backhand of her own down the line, but the Spaniard opened up the Czech as a backhand right at Safarova forced a forehand into the net and gave the Spaniard two match points.
On match point, Safarova would hit a forehand into the net to give the Spaniard a winning debut. The win also helped her exact a little revenge on Safarova as the two met on Sunday in doubles. Safarova and her partner, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, took out Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets.