Romanian world number 34 Irina-Camelia Begu fought back from a set down to upset home favorite Garbine Muguruza 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 to reach the third round in Madrid. After sending former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard packing a day earlier, Begu kept up her superb form to reach her second straight third round at the Mutua Madrid Open.
Muguruza fights through tight first set
Begu began the match by holding serve routinely before the Romanian broke Muguruza on her fourth break chance to go up an early break. Begu kept up the fast start, holding for 3-0, before the Spaniard got on the board with a routine hold of her own. Both players then held serve before the world number 34 held to love for a 5-2 lead, forcing Mugurza to serve to stay in the set. The 2015 Wimbledon finalist held to stay in the set after one deuce.
With her back against the wall and Begu serving for the opening set, Muguruza came firing back to break at the crucial moment to put the match back on serve at 5-4. The home favorite then held for 5-5 before again breaking Begu on her third chance to give herself the chance to serve for the set. The third seed made no mistake, closing out the set easily to take a one set to love lead over the Romanian.
Begu battles back to take second set
With the confidence and momentum of Muguruza oozing out, the Spaniard started where she left off in set number one, breaking the Romanian immediately to go up 1-0. With all the momentum with the third seed, Begu responded immediately to break back before consolidating the break for 2-1. The world number 34 broke the world number four again before holding for 4-1, a complete role reversal of how the last set had ended and this one began. Muguruza held to 15 before Begu fended off a break point for 5-2, putting the pressure on the Spaniard to serve to stay in the set.
The third seed responded beautifully, holding emphatically to love before saving three set points to break for 5-4. Mugurza again held to love for 5-5 before breaking her Romanian opponent for 6-5, giving the Spaniard the chance to serve out the match. When serving for it, nerves got the best of last year's Wimbledon finalist, giving back the break and sending the set to a tiebreak.
The tiebreak served as a microcosm of the entire second set, with both players trading breaks throughout in a topsy-turvy affair. The tiebreak began with the home favorite going up a mini-break on Begu, holding it for 2-0. The Romanian responded though, breaking to get the mini break back, before holding both of her service points for a 3-2 lead. The third seed held one of her serve points before again falling victim to Begu's exquisite returning to put the Romanian up 4-3. The world number 34 then held both her service points to go up 6-3, creating three set points. The Spaniard fought off the first before Begu broke again to take the second set and level at a set all.
Begu seals the upset in the third
The Romanian came out firing early on in the decider, breaking her Spanish rival for an early 1-0 lead. Both players held serve for 2-1 before Mugurza broke to level the set at 2-2. Muguruza and Begu again held serve before the third seed surrendered the break easily. The world number 34 held for 5-3 before breaking the home favorite on her second match point to seal the upset in three sets.
Begu discusses the win
"I was a little bit disappointed in my game when I was leading; I wouldn't be as aggressive as I was before" Begu said about her lost leads after the match. "My coach told me I'm really close, and really playing well. I just had to keep fighting for every ball, and that was the key."
When asked about the outpouring of support from Romanian fans even in the Spanish capital, Begu said, "In Spain and especially in Madrid, there are a lot of Romanians, so I think it was 50/50!" Begu said. "It's tough to play a local player, and especially against Garbiñe, one of the best players. I was ready for this match, and I think that was the key as well."
Muguruza on another disappointing loss
After suffering another disappointing loss in an already mediocre first quarter of the season from the Spaniard, Mugurza said, "I think I could have started better, but I managed to come back. I managed to fight and find my game."
"But I think it has been a very good game. I think she played pretty well. I played against Begu before and I think that today she played much better than previous times," added the Spaniard.
"I think that she served very well. I had to fight everything that I can, but just didn't go my way this time."