As one would say, there is no “impossible” in sports like tennis. Karolina Muchova, the world number 202 and Grand Slam main draw debutante, ousted rising star Dayana Yastremska in the opening round of the 2018 US Open for her maiden Major main draw win and followed it up with an even more impressive victory over two-time Major champion Garbiñe Muguruza. 12th seed Muguruza’s struggles continued as she was shocked under the lights of Louis Armstrong Stadium, being stunned 6-3, 4-6, 4-6 after two-hours and 27-minutes of play.
Leaving Flushing Meadows as the top-ranked female player last year, Muguruza leaves the site this year with her ranking being 12th at best and having won just one match on hard-courts after Wimbledon. Affected by an arm injury coming into the tournament, she eased past Zhang Shuai in the first round but the Spaniard put in a disappointing performance on Wednesday night and was sent packing earlier than expected.
Muguruza overcomes late wobble to take the first set
It was the best possible start any player could have asked for Muguruza — rattling off five consecutive games to start the match with. She was firing on all cylinders and seemed to have shrugged off all the pre-match and early nerves much better than her inexperienced opponent. Muchova, playing in her maiden Grand Slam main draw, was making her debut in the magnificent Louis Armstrong Stadium and this was the biggest match of her career thus far, and the nerves were understandable.
Muguruza was simply unstoppable but Muchova stopped the rout in time with a confident service hold which helped her get onto the scoreboard. That seemed to have completely ruined Muguruza’s momentum, claiming three consecutive games to lessen the deficit while the improbable comeback looked to be on the cards. Fortunately for the Spaniard, she managed to regain her composure on her second chance to serve out the set, doing so comfortably after 37 minutes of play.
Muchova impressively fights back
Muchova came out of the blocks firing in the second set as she jumped out to a formidable 3-0 lead within a blink of an eye. She started to take the initiative and grab any chance to go on the offence, overpowering Muguruza and limiting the world number 12 to being defensive during the majority of the time.
The Czech qualifier was putting up a strong mental performance as well — the experienced two-time Major champion had the golden opportunity to break back in the fifth game but back-to-back aces allowed her to escape from the tricky situation and seal the tough service hold.
Although Muguruza managed to eventually break back in the latter stages of the set, the Spaniard was too sloppy at the baseline and her low first-serve percentage of 47 proved costly, with Muchova stunning the crowd by taking the second set with a forehand down-the-line winner.
Huge upset sealed
Muguruza was fired up in the early stages of the final set after grabbing the confident start, breaking serve in the opening game with a forehand winner. Everything seemed to be going the Spaniard’s way, including the momentum, as she stormed towards a 2-0 lead and earning four break points in the third game.
From there, Muchova managed to completely turn the tides in her favour. She saved all four break points with winners, before closing out the game in the most impressive fashion — throwing in an ace on game point. Three successive games ensued before a series of service holds followed as well.
Muguruza had to deal with the pressure of playing catch-up, and certainly, pressure does not go well with her. Muchova took full advantage and pounced on her chances, with Muguruza sending a forehand wild on the Czech’s second match point to end the titanic late-night affair.