World number seven Garbiñe Muguruza will be looking to get through her second round match with Samantha Crawford on Day Three of the Australian Open as quick as possible. The reigning French Open champion is nursing a right thigh injury which was evident in her first round match with Marina Erakovic. The Spaniard has never reached the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam hard court event with the fourth round twice in 2014 and 2015 being her best finishes in Melbourne. Nevertheless, despite winning the French Open last year, 2016 was a disappointing year for Muguruza, and she will be hoping that 2017 will be a huge improvement.
Crawford's breakthrough tournament was at the Brisbane International last year, reaching the semifinals at the Premier event before she was thrashed by two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who went on to win the title in Brisbane. Crawford's progress has been stagnant since then with a second round finish at Wimbledon to show for. The 21-year-old American ended 2016 on a positive note by reaching the quarterfinals at the WTA 125k in Honolulu.
How they got here
The seventh-seeded Spaniard somehow finished off her match against New Zealand's Marina Erakovic. Muguruza was clearly uncomfortable on the court in the hot conditions, combined with an injury is a terrible combination to contain with whilst on the court. After winning the first set, the French Open champion went on to take a medical timeout after winning the first set. Somehow, Muguruza reeled off five consecutive games to win the match in straight sets after saving a set point in the first set, and 1-4 down in the second set, winning the match, 7-5, 6-4.
The world number 162 won her first-ever match at the Australian Open against compatriot Lauren Davis, who was full of confidence after winning the ASB Classic in New Zealand, recording, an impressive, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory.
Muguruza has a favourable draw where 32nd seed Anastasija Sevastova and compatriot, the 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro are her projected adversaries in rounds three and four, before a potential quarterfinal clash with world number one and reigning champion Angelique Kerber.
This will be the first-ever meeting between Muguruza and Crawford, and despite carrying an injury, the Spaniard's experience on playing on the big courts makes her the clear favourite to reach the third round Down Under.
Muguruza will need to keep the points short by getting in a lot of big first serves in, and dishing out some aces. Moreover, the Spaniard will need to remain aggressive from the baseline, and it is vital that her forehand and backhands are firing on all cylinders. Moreover, the former world number two will be playing in the evening session, therefore, the conditions will suit her game, and it will not be too hot.
On the other hand, this is a big opportunity for Crawford to defeat a top-ten player for the first time in her career. She's already played a player of the calibre of Muguruza before, and that was reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in 2013. Although, whilst not ranked in the top ten at the time, Crawford has defeated a former top ten player in Belinda Bencic, who's been ranked as a high as seven in the world.
The American is a tall and powerful player like Muguruza as she packs a punch with her forehand, and she moves well around the court. Furthermore, Crawford has had the experience of playing against some of the best players in the world but should the French Open remain calm and composed on the court, it should be a simple victory for the seventh seed.
This is the first match scheduled for the evening session in the Rod Laver Arena at not 7 pm local time, and the winner of this match will play 32nd seed Anastasija Sevastova, who beat Muguruza at the US Open last year or Slovakia's Kristina Kucova in the third round on Friday.
Prediction: Muguruza in straight sets