WTA Madrid first round preview: Garbine Muguruza - Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

WTA Madrid first round preview: Garbine Muguruza - Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

Garbine Muguruza will play Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round of the 2016 Mutua Madrid Open.

jake-fletcher
Jake Fletcher

The third seed Garbine Muguruza will play un-seeded Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round of the Premier Mandatory level Mutua Madrid Open, played on clay courts in Spain.

Recent Results

Muguruza has had a disappointing start to the season given the fact she finished last year ranked at a career high of number three. In her first five tournaments, the Spaniard advanced to only one quarterfinal in Doha before some vociferous home support in Miami (renowned for supporting players of a Latin American origin) apparently turned her season around. Since losing in a couple of tiebreaker sets in the fourth round there to Victoria Azarenka, Muguruza has come into her own on clay, beating top tenner Roberta Vinci in the Fed Cup and reaching the quarterfinals at Stuttgart.

For some reason, Schmiedlova has barely been able to win a match this year. Despite peaking at a career high of number 26 last October, the Slovak has lost 11 of the 14 matches she's contested this year and now finds herself ranked down at number 34. If  Schmiedlova was hoping that the change to clay would help her, she's been forced to think again given her two first round exits in International level events, the latest a 6-0, 6-1 hammering to Kiki Bertens in Marrakech.

Past Experience

Muguruza is ranked number four in the world at present and has won two WTA titles, the latest coming in Beijing last October. The 22-year-old sprang to prominence last year when she became the first Spanish woman since 1996 to reach a Wimbledon final, losing in two competitive sets to Serena Williams. Before she can even contemplate winning her home event, she'll be grateful to advance beyond the second round here for the first time, losing tough three set battles to former Grand Slam champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Samantha Stosur at the stage in 2015 and 2014 respectively.

Despite her apparent flexibility, wins have been hard to come by for Schmiedlova this year. Source: Getty Images/Anadolu Agency

Schmiedlova has always excelled on clay, winning the title in Bucharest last year over clay court specialist Sara Errani and coming to prominence by beating Venus Williams at the French Open in 2014. A career defining  2015 saw her not only win two titles but also begin to master the hard courts, beating the likes of Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska on the surface. Therefore, the 21-year-old's slump is all the more surprising given her confidence inducing recent results.

Head-to-Head

Muguruza dominates their head-to-head 3-0, losing no more than six games in any of their encounters. Their latest was in Wuhan last October where Muguruza won 6-2, 6-2 in the third round whilst their only previous match on clay was almost as one sided; a 6-2, 6-4 win at the same stage of the French Open in 2014.

The Spaniard has a powerful, un-typically Spanish game based on a heavy serve and early, aggressive groundstrokes. Muguruza won't change her game for the clay and will still look to boss her opponent in the rallies as she's done to success in the past. Highly strung and prone to emotional outbursts, the third seed apparently enjoys playing before enthusiastic crowds and will no doubt relish the home support.

In contrast, Schmiedlova plays with heavier topspin and utilises the drop shot effectively. The Slovak uses her flatter backhand to dictate the points when she can and has a solid serve. However, it appears that she's a confidence player, prone to runs of good and bad which won't help given her terrible head-to-head against Muguruza.

For these reasons, Muguruza is a sizeable favorite who will look to extend Schmiedlova's miserable start to 2016.

Prediction: Muguruza in straight sets

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