Perhaps the most exciting second round matchup at the Miami Open took place this afternoon between the fourth-seed Garbiñe Muguruza, and world number 54 Dominika Cibulkova. Muguruza led the head-to-head meetings 2-0, with both wins being close-scoring matches. 

A victory for Cibulkova could be largely helpful in propelling her closer to where she belongs in the rankings, while a triumph for Muguruza would be a confidence booster to set the tone for her success moving into the clay season.

Cibulkova Emerges From Series of Ups and Downs

Muguruza came out firing and quickly made her way to a 2-0 lead.  Cibulkova, however, typically playing her best tennis when she is down in the match, fought back to win three consecutive games and bring the match back on serve, 3-2. 

The set continued to play out in a similar manner, with the momentum shifting frequently. Both players utilized her strengths, Muguruza the backhand and Cibulkova the forehand, to attack and to control play at the baseline. Rallies at the net were few and far between, as each point the ball was pummeled from side-to-side until an error was forced. 

Ultimately, it was Muguruza, who came racing up a break to a 6-5 lead, who had the first chance to close out this first set and inch to a lead.  However, the pressure of serving out the set proved too much for the 22-year-old Spaniard, as Cibulkova capitalized on Muguruza’s two double faults to level the match at 6-6. 

Cibulkova celebrates after taking the first set | Getty Images Sport, Mike Ehrmann
Cibulkova celebrates after taking the first set | Getty Images Sport, Mike Ehrmann

This time, it was Cibulkova who raced to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak. She was relentless and determined, as she gave Muguruza no free points. Two big serves up the mini-break 4-3, and one incredible rally later, and Cibulkova had sealed the set, 7-6.

Muguruza Re-takes Control

At the beginning of the second set, Cibulkova maintained her focus; the match was leveled at 1-1 but she seemed to be in full control. Just as in the tiebreak, winners continued to flow off of her racquet, leaving Muguruza unable to attack. However, as in the set prior, the momentum shifted as Muguruza battled back to level the set 2-2.

While the serve percentage of both players remained equal, it was Muguruza’s increased amount of winners, and Cibulkova’s committing more unforced errors, that contributed to the momentum swing.  Muguruza continued to dominate the set, and there was little Cibulkova could do to pressure the Muguruza’s serve and create break point opportunities for herself. 

Muguruza served out the set 6-3 to level the match at one set apiece. A frustrated Cibulkova, knowing that she could have committed fewer errors, requested to see her coach during the break.

Muguruza Edges Grueling Battle to the Finish Line

Cibulkova started the third set with confidence. The frustration from the last set seemed to have dissipated, and she pulled away 3-1 to take charge of the decider. Again, Muguruza battled back to level the set at 3-3. The players continued to play closely for the next few games. Then, locked at 5-5, Muguruza began to put the Cibulkova serve under pressure. Some incredible winners saw her take the ever crucial break of serve, 6-5. 

Muguruza talks to the press following her victory |Photo courtesy: Getty Images Sport | Matthew Stockman
Muguruza talks to the press following her victory |Photo courtesy: Getty Images Sport | Matthew Stockman

Serving out the set after the changeover, Muguruza did not falter this time.  At 40-30, she smacked a swinging volley winner down the left-hand side of the court to emerge victorious, 6-7, 6-3, 7-5.  At the same time, Cibulkova smashed her racquet in frustration. Surely, with all of the opportunities that she had in leading the match, she was the favorite to come out on top. Yet, it was Muguruza who was finally able to hold her nerve in the third set and to minimize the amount of errors she made as she stormed her way to the third round.