WTA Miami: Garbine Muguruza escapes from the brink against Christina McHale

WTA Miami: Garbine Muguruza escapes from the brink against Christina McHale

Garbine Muguruza narrowly got past Christina McHale in a thriller which saw her save a match point in the process to triumph in three sets and progress to the third round of the Miami Open.

don-han
Don Han

The second round of the Miami Open saw Garbine Muguruza struggling with the conditions against Christina McHale, coming from a first set bagel loss to eventually triumph in the match which spanned across two days.

McHale whitewashes Muguruza

The first set, which was played yesterday night, was full of McHale after Muguruza struggled with the strong winds, which affected her game as a whole. McHale made the first breakthrough in the match just right in the opening game as she broke serve easily to take the early lead. The American then consolidated the break to extend her lead to two games before breaking serve once more to earn a double break advantage and looked poised to close out the first set.

Garbine Muguruza was frustrated with herself during last night | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America
Garbine Muguruza was frustrated with herself during last night | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America

McHale continued to stroll through the first set with a shocking scoreline after she consolidated the break once again, but this time she had to fend off two break points to prevent Muguruza from getting onto the scoreboard and extended her lead to 4-0. The impossible was almost complete when McHale broke serve for the third time in a row as Muguruza failed to get herself onto the scoreboard once more, being broken to 15 as she gave McHale the golden opportunity to complete a seemingly impossible bagel over the world number six. It turned out to be possible as McHale shockingly strolled to the first set victory after comfortably holding her serve, being halfway from the huge upset in just 32 minutes.

McHale continues strolling

McHale carried the momentum over to the second set as she began the set with yet another service break, her fourth of the day and her seventh straight game, to take the early lead in the second set. Despite facing two break points, McHale then consolidated the break to extend her lead on the scoreboard to two games, with the win looking closer to her than ever.

Everything was going smoothly for the American at the start | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America
Everything was going smoothly for the American at the start | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America

Muguruza finally got onto the scoreboard with some precise hitting following up her strong serves helping to save herself from more embarrassment, stopping the rout of losing eight straight games. After an exchange of service holds which saw the scoreline set at 3-2 in favour of McHale, rain intervened play as it prevented the play from continuing further on during the night. Therefore, play was canceled for the day and this match was delayed until today.

Muguruza saves match point

The second day of play in this match began with a fast service hold for McHale, who extended her lead to 4-2 and looked on course for the victory. However, that was when Muguruza started to mount a huge comeback as she rattled off eight straight points to return level on the scoreboard all of a sudden and keep the second set wide open again.

The second day of play was much of a disaster for McHale | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
The second day of play was much of a disaster for McHale | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

Just when everyone thought that Muguruza would level the match soon, she started to hand out free points as unforced errors started to come off her racquet, gifting McHale the break of serve in the ninth game and gifted her to golden opportunity to serve for the huge upset. Despite getting to deuce, McHale seemed to let nerves get to her as she started to play passively, not daring to go on the offense as Muguruza took advantage and broke straight back to level the scores at 5-5. It was a similar case when the Spaniard threw her service game away once again, allowing McHale to have a second chance to serve out the match.

Christina McHale failed to serve out the match twice and also failed to convert a match point | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America
Christina McHale failed to serve out the match twice and also failed to convert a match point | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America

However, this time it was the American who started to fire unforced errors, eventually being broken back immediately to extend the set into a tiebreak. Running out to a 5-3 lead in the tiebreak, it seemed like Muguruza would definitely be able to close the set out and level the match. McHale came out firing from that point onwards, winning three consecutive points to earn her first match point of the match. Despite having the momentum, McHale hit an easy backhand return out wide which allowed Muguruza to come back from the brink and level the scores at 6-6. Being the player with more experience on the big stages, Muguruza dealt with the pressure well and eventually clinched the tight second set 7-6 after a marathon 67 minutes.

Garbine Muguruza reaches to return a serve | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America
Garbine Muguruza reaches to return a serve | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America

Muguruza recovers from early deficit

McHale did not let the loss of the second set affect her emotions and gameplay as she managed to have an easy service hold in the opening game of the final set to start the set on a positive note. With the confidence gathered from that game, McHale broke serve for the seventh time in the match to take the early lead in the final set, once again looking poised for the victory. However, Muguruza did not give up that easily as she broke straight back to return level on serve before holding her serve for the first time in the final set.

The next breakthrough came in the seventh game, with Muguruza capitalizing on her fourth break point in the game to take the lead at the most crucial moment, just right in the closing stages of the match. McHale almost made an immediate reply in the next game when she went up 0-30 when Muguruza was serving, but the world number six maintained her composure to consolidate the break of serve and placed herself just one game away from the victory. The Spaniard then eventually closed out the match by successfully closing out her service game, escaping from the brink to triumph in three sets.

Garbine Muguruza applauds the crowd after the match | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America
Garbine Muguruza applauds the crowd after the match | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America

VAVEL Logo