WTA Rogers Cup: Garbine Muguruza battles into round three

The Wimbledon champion did not have things all her own way on Wednesday in Toronto, but she gritted out a tough win to reach the round of sixteen.

WTA Rogers Cup: Garbine Muguruza battles into round three
Garbine Muguruza hits a forehand. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Garbine Muguruza
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Kirsten Flipkens

Fourth seed Garbine Muguruza overcame a slow start to her opening match at the 2017 Rogers Cup, raising her level late to defeat Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-2. The Wimbledon champion struggled to keep the ball in the court in the opening set, twice surrendering break leads on the heals of her own errors, but the Spaniard settled in after taking the opening set and cruised into the third round in straight sets.

Sloppy start from Muguruza

After Flipkens held easily to start the match, Muguruza struggled in her opening game, needing two deuces to hold after an error-filled game. The Spaniard seemed to have found her rhythm when she broke for a 3-2 lead, only to fall behind 0-40 in the very next game after a series of unforced errors. She would send a volley long on the second break point to level the set at 3-3. Next, it was Flipkens’ turn to make some crucial mistakes, double faulting the break back to her opponent in the following game.

Kirsten Flipkens strikes a forehand. Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images
Kirsten Flipkens strikes a forehand. Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Muguruza, still struggling to find her rhythm, very nearly gave the break right back in the following game when she sent a forehand long to set up break point. But her serve would come up big in this game, saving it with an ace. Twice more in the game, Flipkens would hold break point, both times she failed to put her return in play. Looking to serve out the set, the Spaniard’s struggles returned as she missed a swinging volley to go down 15-40. She would double fault on the second to give back the break and level the set once again at 5-5.

Muguruza was not discouraged and, in the very next game, took a 0-30 lead before holding break point at 30-40. The pair would engage in a wild exchange in the front court, ending when the Spaniard’s passing shot caught the net cord and deflected behind Flipkens for a winner and a break. She did not waste her second chance to close out the set, holding to take it 7-5.

Muguruza races through

The Spaniard finally seemed settled in at the start of the second, while Flipkens appeared to be jittery. At deuce in the third game on the Belgian’s serve, Flipkens sent back-to-back forehand wide to hand the early break to Muguruza. The fourth seed did not let the lead slip away this time, quickly consolidating for a 3-1 lead.

Muguruza hits a backhand. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Muguruza hits a backhand. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Rather than getting defensive, the Spaniard continued to attack. At 4-2, she went back to work on her opponent’s serve. Flipkens saved a break point at 30-40 with a big serve, but missed a forehand wide to give Muguruza a second chance. The Belgian fired her forehand wide to fall behind two breaks and give Muguruza a chance to serve out the match. The Spaniard made no mistake, holding to book her place in the third round.

By the numbers

Muguruza made Flipkens pay for missing first serves, winning 56 percent of her second serve return points. While her ability to save break points left a bit to be desired, the Spaniard was ruthless when looking to break, converting five of her six break points.

Muguruza now awaits the winner between Elena Vesnina and Ashleigh Barty in the third round.