Third seed Garbiñe Muguruza made a dazzling return to the Spanish capital on Saturday afternoon, defeating Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 7-5 to successfully open her 2016 Mutua Madrid Open campaign. With this victory, Muguruza now moves into the second round, where she will face Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu, a three-set winner later in the day over former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard.
Muguruza Powers Through Opening Set
After exchanging a pair of routine holds to open proceedings, it was unsurprisingly Muguruza who was looking to gain the upper hand early; her powerful ground strokes eventually earning her the first break of the contest in a tightly-contested third game. From there, Muguruza made no mistake, swiftly consolidating the break at love to open up a 3-1 lead. With the Spaniard seemingly finding her rhythm up an early break, it came as no surprise that Muguruza continued to impress from the back of the court, thus creating a trio of break points. In the end, it was a case of third time lucky for the world number four; an untimely double fault from Schmiedlova handing Muguruza the insurance break.
Despite the disappointment of dropping her serve for a second time, Schmiedlova regrouped and managed to create a pair of break points for herself, alas she was unable to take them. But eventually, at the fourth bite of the cherry, the world number 35 got over the line, recovering one of two breaks against her to reduce the deficit to 2-4.
However, Muguruza was not willing to back down, and soon restored order by breaking once more to open up a commanding 5-2 lead and with it, two chances to steer a set clear in this first round encounter. In the end, the Spanish number one proved she needed no second invitation, sealing the opening set 6-2 on her first set point with a big serve down the T.
Muguruza Secures Decisive Break Late in Second Set; Books Place in Round Two
After a string of four consecutive holds to open the second set, it was Muguruza who made the first move, breaking at the first time of asking to take a set and 3-2 lead. However, Schmiedlova refused to go down quietly and with the help of some high percentage tennis, got the break straight back to draw level at 3-all. This trend continued until the ninth game of the set, when Schmiedlova was finally able to break a streak of four breaks in succession with a hold of her own, courtesy of a few untimely unforced errors from Muguruza.
With both players now playing some of their best tennis of the match, there were some exceptional exchanges, but it was Muguruza who—more often than not—came out on top. Serving to stay in the set, the Spaniard faced her first real test of the contest, and passed with flying colours.
Now level at five-games-all, the stakes were higher than ever, and Muguruza began to raise her level right when it really mattered. With a thunderous forehand down the line winner off the return, the Spaniard claimed a seemingly decisive break to lead by a set and 6-5.
Despite some late-match resistance from Schmiedlova, it was a case of too little, too late for the 21-year-old as Muguruza sealed a hard-fought 6-2, 7-5 victory with a glorious forehand passing shot down the line.
Muguruza to Meet Begu
With this victory, Muguruza will now play Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu, who defeated Eugenie Bouchard in a late-night thriller on Estadio 3. This will be the pair's third meeting, with the Spaniard holding a comfortable 2-0 head-to-head record against the Romanian. In a match featuring two big-hitters, expect the majority of the match to be dictated by first strike tennis.