Third seed and 2016 Roland Garros champion Garbine Muguruza started her campaign for a second title in relatively impressive style on Tuesday, with the Spaniard fending of another former champion in Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach the second round at the French Open.
Many people were expecting this to be a particularly competitive clash between two women who have had so much success at this tournament in the past, and that proved to be the case early on, with the score tied at 5-5 in the opener when rain halted play. However, on resumption, Muguruza took control and eventually proved a little too strong for Kuznetsova, the champion back in 2009, with the Spaniard prevailing 7-6(0), 6-2 in two hours and five minutes out on Court One.
Muguruza proves too strong for Kuznetsova following competitive start
Neither Kuznetsova or Muguruza have had particularly strong seasons so far in 2018, with the Russian struggling on her return from wrist injury and with the Spaniard also struggling with some niggling injuries throughout the year, though the fact that both women have previously won this tournament meant many people were intrigued by this encounter.
It was Muguruza, the favorite to win this match heading in, who was generally in charge of the first set, twice leading by a break, though she also missed many opportunities, allowing Kuznetsova to work her way back in. The Russian broke for the first time to level up the opener at 3-3, and after losing serve straight away eventually broke Muguruza once again as the Spaniard served for the set at 5-4; however, any momentum that she could have built was halted by a heavy rain shower, which halted play for around an hour.
On resumption, both women held serve comfortably to force a tiebreak, and it was Muguruza who took control, not dropping a single point as she aggressively sealed the opening set. The third seed was playing a lot cleaner than she had before the rain delay, and quickly found herself up in the second set, missing break points in Kuznetsova’s opening service game but breaking the next time, saving two break points to seal a commanding 4-1 lead. Kuznetsova held to apply some pressure, but Muguruza was able to hold comfortably to put herself a game from victory, and converted a third match point to seal a hard fought victory.
It was certainly not a flawless performance from Muguruza, with 31 unforced errors just outnumbering the 27 winners that came off her racket, though there were undoubtedly some positive signs for her against such a tricky first round opponent, and following a generally disappointing build-up to the tournament. Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro awaits for her in the second round.