WTA Stuttgart second round preview: Timea Babos - Garbiñe Muguruza

The final singles clash of the day at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on Wednesday sees an interesting clash between the vastly-improving Timea Babos and the 3rd seed Garbine Muguruza, who may be finding some form again after a disappointing start to 2016.

The winner of this match will face fifth seed Petra Kvitova, Monica Niculescu or Caroline Garcia (the latter two also face off tomorrow) in the quarterfinal.

Form coming in

Babos has had the best season of her career so far this year; she’s currently inside the top 20 on the Road To Singapore. In her last tournament, Katowice, she lost in the quarterfinals but rebounded well to record a straight sets win over Sabine Lisicki in the opening round in Stuttgart. She will be confident coming into this clash and clay could be a good surface for her; her only career final, in Marrakech last year, came on the surface.

Overall, it hasn’t been the best season for Muguruza, suffering early losses at most of her tournaments. However, there were some positive signs for her in Miami (the last tournament she played), and on clay, recorded straight set Fed Cup wins over Francesca Schiavone and Roberta Vinci just this weekend. Her form is certainly improving and, as a two-time French Open quarterfinalist, is clearly confident on the surface.

Babos after her first round victory in Stuttgart (Getty/Bongarts/Dennis Grombkowski)
Babos after her first round victory in Stuttgart (Getty/Bongarts/Dennis Grombkowski)

Analysis

Though both women are powerful, Muguruza is the more powerful of the two and she must try to use that advantage by trying to dictate play. The Spaniard will certainly need to serve well to do this, though must be careful to not make too many errors; she has been error-prone in some of her losses this season. Furthermore, she must also take advantage of any opportunities she gets; against a confident player such as Babos, she may not get too many.

The key for Babos could be to try and force Muguruza to make mistakes; the best way she can do this is defend well and frustrate the Spaniard. Babos will need to step her level from the first round, as she is playing a stronger clay court player, and should try and dictate play at every opportunity she gets. She must also keep her error numbers down, though should look to come into the net and get Muguruza moving around the court; Muguruza is not bad at the net and is a good mover, though Babos is arguably stronger in both areas and must try to exploit this.

Serving will be important for Muguruza (Getty/Julian Finney)
Serving will be important for Muguruza (Getty/Julian Finney)

Head to Head

Muguruza leads the head to head 2-0, winning their last meeting, in Doha, earlier this year in straight sets. That was one of Muguruza’s best wins this season and she will be looking to perform just as well, though Babos is certainly capable of playing better than she did that day.

Assessment

This certainly has the potential to be a tight match and could be a strong end to the singles action tomorrow. Babos does have a decent chance here, though Muguruza is seemingly back in form and with the Spaniard having more power and generally more success on clay, she should edge this.

Prediction: Garbine Muguruza in three sets

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