Two of the most powerful players on the WTA Tour face off on Monday, with the unseeded Garbine Muguruza taking on ninth seed Kiki Bertens facing off for a spot in the last eight at the Australian Open.
This match is undoubtedly an intriguing one, with Bertens proving to be a successful late bloomer in terms of her career over the past few seasons and with Muguruzza being a former world number one and two-time Grand Slam champion. However, neither was particularly expected to feature at this tournament, with Muguruza unseeded after a poor 2019 and with Bertens having never made it past the third round of this tournament.
This will be the sixth time the two have faced off. Bertens leads the head-to-head 3-2, though Muguruza has won their past two meetings, with these matches both being on hard courts. Taking place on the Rod Laver Arena, the winner will face 17th seed Angelique Kerber or 30th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the last eight.
So Far in Melbourne
Despite being the ninth seed, Bertens came into the tournament without too much attention placed on her, but has impressed on her way to a maiden second week appearance at Melbourne Park. The Dutchwoman started with a comfortable win over Irina-Camelia Begu, and then saw off Arina Rodionova in another straight sets win to reach round three. The ninth seed secured a fourth round berth with a third straight sets win over Zarina Diyas.
Meanwhile Muguruza has also been rounding into form nicely. The Spaniard was bageled in her opening set of the tournament, but eventually dropped just one game in the next two sets to beat Shelby Rogers and then prevailed in a high-quality three-setter against Aija Tomljanovic to reach round three. There, she displayed some of her best tennis to easily dispatch fifth seed Elina Svitolina in a convincing performance.
This will be a highly aggressive encounter, with both women powerful ball strikers who will look to dictate as regularly as often. Bertens is one of the best servers on tour, and will look to use this to gain an upper foot on rallies on her serve, and pick up several cheap points using it. Though Muguruza is generally not quite as effective with her serve, the Spaniard’s biggest weapon, her backhand, has been firing well this tournament, and she will look to use this as much as possible.
Both women have also had success on the doubles court before, which means it will be interesting to see if either of them look to approach the net, or attempt to draw the other one in to force them out of position. Pressure may also play a factor in this match. Bertens has only ever reached two Grand Slam quarterfinals before, whilst Muguruza has not reached that stage of a slam since 2018. It will be interesting to see who will be able to break back into the last eight of a slam.
This will likely be a big-hitting clash, with several winners and impressive play from both. The level of tennis from both has been impressive, and no result would really be a surprise, but Muguruza has seemingly recaptured her old spark, and might be able to edge this one.
Prediction: Garbine Muguruza in Three Sets