Garbine Muguruza continues her French Open title defence and she takes on last year’s quarterfinalist, Yulia Putintseva.
(4) Garbine Muguruza [No.5] vs (27) Yulia Putintseva [No.29]
Overview: Being back in Paris seems to always inspire Garbine Muguruza. After last year’s Roland Garros triumph, Muguruza has failed to make it to a final, her most notable results were semifinal appearances in 2016’s Cinccinati and this year’s Rome Open. Coming into the French Open with an injury that derailed her in her semifinal against Elina Svitolina in Rome, lots of question marks were surrounding Muguruza as the defending champion. However, the World No.5 has seemingly handled the pressure quite well, starting her campaign with a 6-2 6-4 win over Francesca Schiavone. She wavered a little in a dangerous opponent in the form of Anett Kontaveit, but turned the tables around, winning 6-7(4) 6-4 6-2. The Spaniard has arguably been playing the best tennis of the season especially in the big moments; she could have been easily ousted in the first two rounds.
2016 French open quarter-finalist Yulia Putintseva has a large number of points to defend, she is now No.40 in the live rankings and she will need a deep run in order to cement her place back in the Top 30. After a final appearance in St.Petersburg, losing to Kiki Mladenovic, Putintseva failed to win back-to-back matches till last week’s Nuremberg Cup, which wasn’t even that impressive either, beating two players outside of the Top 70. She then fell in the quarters to Sorana Cirstea. Her mojo seems to be back though; the Kazakh beat Myrtille Goerges in her opener (which I expected Putintseva to lose, oops), then beat Johanna Larsson in a 6-1 1-6 6-3 scoreline to book her ticket into round 3 once again.
Head to head: Muguruza won their previous encounter in Beijing last year, a hard fought 6-2 7-6(5) win.
Stat: This year’s French Open is Putintseva’s third time winning back-to-back matches in a Grand Slam, the previous times were in the 2016 Australian Open and French Open.
Thoughts: Muguruza will look to dominate with her groundstrokes as Putintseva’s defensive skills are top notch especially on the clay. The Spaniard will look to come to the net to cut Putintseva’s angles. Muguruza is still vulnerable and Putintseva loves the big stage so the upset is certainly possible. Muguruza will need to be at her best to beat the Kazakh and I think she can, she has been playing some aggressive tennis in her wins over Schiavone and Kontaveit. Going for a bold pick for Muguruza to win in straights.