Overcoming her disappointment from the Asian Swing, world number two Garbiñe Muguruza earned the perfect start to the 2017 WTA Finals after exacting revenge over Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko in their opening round-robin match of the White Group, taking the much-needed victory in straight sets. Muguruza looked impressive on Sunday night in Singapore, dictating play well against the erratic Latvian youngster throughout the 85-minute encounter.
Muguruza grabs the early lead
The Wimbledon champion’s game looked sturdy early on, clinching the opening service game within a blink of an eye. Playing in the prestigious tournament at the age of 20 and being the youngest competitor this year, Ostapenko had an inevitable nervy start to the match as she started to throw in several unforced errors, gifting Muguruza an early service break. However, the youngster was quick to regain her composure and attacked the vulnerable second serve of the Spaniard, retrieving the break back immediately and getting on the scoreboard with a loud “Come on”.
Ostapenko fights back
Ostapenko just could not find the rhythm on her serves with her vulnerable second serves causing her to produce an array of unforced errors, throwing away the break with her third double fault of the night. This time, Muguruza was able to consolidate with some solid and consistent serving, sealing a love service hold for a commanding 4-1 lead.
Lessening the deficit with a routine hold, the momentum seemed to have gone towards the Latvian’s way after she threatened to break back in the seventh game, earning a 0-40 lead with her powerful groundstroke which left Muguruza helpless. Though the world number two did show some resistance by putting in a solid serving performance to return to deuce, she was unable to fend off a fourth break point as Ostapenko returned on serve.
Muguruza steals the first set
Unforced errors continued to haunt Ostapenko as she produced those unwanted shots at the critical moments, losing a 30-15 lead to get broken for the third time in the set, helping Muguruza to regain the lead. Serving with confidence and having the rhythm on her backhands, the Spaniard successfully served out the first set 6-3 after just 37 minutes of play.
Ostapenko’s struggles continue
Ostapenko’s risky play certainly backfired on many occasions throughout the encounter, and she was once again broken early in the second set as Muguruza exploited and pounced on those second serves. Determined to exact revenge for her loss in Wuhan, the two-time Grand Slam champion dictated play without facing many problems, ultimately consolidating the break for a formidable 3-1 lead.
Muguruza takes the win
The match seemed to be heading towards its closing stages after Muguruza continued to stroll through the second set, with Ostapenko getting frustrated with herself more often because of her uncountable number of unforced errors. The Latvian finally stopped the rout of losing five consecutive games when she geared up for a comfortable service hold before Muguruza threw in a crucial double-fault at 30-30 while serving for the match and a long forehand kept Ostapenko inside the match for at least one more game.
A love service hold only further fueled her belief that she could produce the incredible comeback, but it was just not meant to be as the composed Muguruza eventually sealed the win on her third match point.
Stats Corner: Muguruza was the more solid player
Both players ended the match with a (-4) difference in their winners-unforced errors ratio, with Ostapenko throwing in a notable amount of 25 unforced errors in the 85-minute encounter. Muguruza was dominant on her first serve, clinching 74 percent of points behind it but was leaky on her less-reliant second serves as the Spaniard only managed to win six points behind them in the match.
The first serve percentage was extremely crucial in this match-up, with Muguruza having the edge with 69 percent of first serves successfully sent in, as compared to 59 percent for Ostapenko. The Spaniard looked solid throughout the match except during several momentum shifts, but she clinched the best possible start to her Singapore campaign, putting herself in pole position to qualify for the semifinals.