WTA Finals Round Robin preview: Karolina Pliskova vs Garbiñe Muguruza

US Open finalist and fourth seed Karolina Pliskova takes on fifth seed and French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza in the White Group of the Round Robin stage at the WTA Finals, and this encounter should be a cracker between these two big hitters.

WTA Finals Round Robin preview: Karolina Pliskova vs Garbiñe Muguruza
Pliskova and Muguruza shake hands at the net following their semifinal encounter at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati (Source : Google Images)

Karolina Pliskova, the fourth seed, will be making her debut appearance at the WTA Finals in Singapore, and the big-hitting Czech has had a summer to remember.

Pliskova has always been a consistent player on tour but always struggled with expectations at Grand Slam tournaments by failing to reach the second week until she made the final of the US Open this year.

On the other hand, Pliskova's opponent is the reigning French Open champion and fifth seed Garbiñe Muguruza, who has struggled to push on since claiming her first Grand Slam singles title.

Muguruza will be competing at the WTA Finals for the second consecutive year, and the Spaniard reached the semifinals in her debut appearance, boasting a flawless 3-0 record in her group before losing to eventual champion Agnieszka Radwanska in a three-set battle.

Pliskova's notable results leading up to Singapore

The fourth seed's decision to skip the Rio Olympics proved to be crucial as the world number five struggled to string together a good run despite a successful grass court season.

Despite losing in the second round of Wimbledon and the third round in Montreal, Pliskova had an 11-match winning streak by winning the biggest title of her career at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, defeating three Slam champions back-to-back, Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals, Muguruza in the semifinals and two-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber in the final by halting her chances of becoming the world number one for the time being.

Pliskova's blistering run culminated in the final of the US Open losing to Kerber, however, the Czech ensured Kerber would be the new world number one by upsetting six-time US Open champion Serena Williams in the semifinals and seven-time Slam winner Venus Williams in the fourth round.

A flurry of early exits during the Asian Swing has occurred for Pliskova losing in Tokyo, losing to Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Dominika Cibulkova in the third round in Wuhan and Johanna Konta in the same round in Beijing.

Pliskova during a practice session in Singapore (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)
Pliskova during a practice session in Singapore (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)

Muguruza's notable results leading up to Singapore

The reigning French Open champion hasn't had too much to smile about this season, despite reaching a career-high ranking of world number two and winning at Roland Garros.

Only three semifinals or better finishes have been the best for the Spaniard which will have been extremely disappointing for the 23-year-old, who has so far failed to deal with the pressure of being a Slam champion.

Muguruza's woes at the US Open continued by losing to eventual surprise quarterfinalist Anastasija Sevastova in the second round in her first match in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The inconsistencies of Muguruza's season has seen her fall to number six in the rankings, and her Asian Swing got off to a poor start with a tough assignment, losing to former world number one Jelena Jankovic in Wuhan.

More misery shortly followed for the big-hitting Spaniard as she failed to defend her title at the Premier Mandatory event in Beijing losing to two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the third round, followed by a retirement in the semifinals of Linz due to an ankle injury.

The former world number two had to withdraw as a precaution, which could have put her participation in Singapore in major jeopardy.

Muguruza during a practice session prior to the WTA Finals in Singapore (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)
Muguruza during a practice session prior to the WTA Finals in Singapore (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)

Their history

Muguruza and Pliskova have met on four occasions, and this year's US Open finalist has the 3-1 advantage over her younger opponent.

The Spaniard leads 1-0 on her favoured clay courts whilst Pliskova is unbeaten on hard courts, leading 3-0.

Both players made their breakthrough in 2014, however, they met the year prior in the first round of the French Open, with Muguruza coming out on top in three sets.

Pliskova levelled their series by winning their two matches last year, first it was a three sets victory in the semifinals in Dubai and in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

At the Western and Southern Open, Muguruza reached her first hard court semifinal of the year but she was thrashed by Pliskova, 6-1, 6-3, who went to claim the title.

Who wins?

Both players haven't been in the best of form recently but they are both capable of grinding out wins out of nowhere and going on a good run, which they have portrayed this year.

They both like to dictate play from the baseline however, Pliskova utilises her serve better than Muguruza, and she is slightly the better mover.

The French Open champion is mentally strong but Pliskova is also strong mentally which she showed throughout her run at the US Open when she was facing adversity.

Muguruza has a good backhand which she used effectively during her title run at the French Open along with possessing good skills at the net due to playing doubles.

Pliskova regularly competes on the doubles tour with Julia Goerges but she may be tempted to follow the similar route of Muguruza to just focus solely on singles, in order to avoid extra tiredness.

This will be a nervy affair as both players will want to get off to a good start, however, Pliskova might be the slight favourite due to fitness worries of Muguruza's with that troubled ankle.

Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska and two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who qualified late for Singapore are the other two participants in the White Group.

It's an extremely strong group as all four players have reached Slam finals.

This match follows the Radwanska-Kuznetsova encounter and they could be on court at around 9:30pm local time.

Prediction: Muguruza in three sets