Magic Monday is arguably the most packed day of the WTA calendar, and it indeed is, with seven of the Top 10 seeds proceeding into the fourth round, not forgetting Grand Slam champions, comeback kids and more. One of the best matches of the lot include Angelique Kerber taking on Garbine Muguruza, which I will be previewing in this post…
(1) Angelique Kerber [No.1] vs (14) Garbine Muguruza [No.15]
Overview: Angelique Kerber’s progression to the fourth round at Wimbledon has been anything but smooth. After supposedly seeming to find some form on the grass, reaching the quarterfinals of Eastbourne, Kerber has sort of reverted to her 2017 form, playing with less aggression and less power, barely clinching wins over Irina Falconi and Kirsten Flipkens where both had break leads in the second set.
That was even more obvious in her third round match against Shelby Rogers, where she was totally blown away by the American in the first few games. Down 2-4 in the second set with a break point to save, Kerber started to find some aggression and capitalised on the errors coming from Rogers’ big game to force the set into a tiebreaker. She duly took it, 7-2, with some dominating groundstrokes. Most were expecting Kerber to cruise through the remainder of the match but to Rogers’ credit, she played well and stepped it up with some domineering play. Up 3-2 40-30 in the decider, nerves came into play and Rogers started to make more and more errors. The German player used the drop shot constantly which was really effective as Kerber got another break and eventually ran away with the match. Kerber’s movement was also great in the match, getting many balls back which resulted in Rogers making errors. Something worrying for Kerber is that her first serve was constantly under 80 mph in the third set and her next opponent, Garbine Muguruza, would probably continue to attack that first delivery. The stats show that Kerber hit 25 winners to 14 errors, suggesting that the World No.1 was playing a good match, but that stat is really very flattering!
No one has been talking about Garbine Muguruza in the first few rounds but let’s not forget that she was a finalist in 2015 at the All England Club, falling to Serena Williams. Although grass is the Spaniard’s least favourite surface, Muguruza has always produced consistent results on the green stuff and she is doing so again. The World No.15 claimed straight set wins over Ekaterina Alexandrova, Yanina Wickmayer and Sorana Cirstea, hitting a total of 50 winners to 30 unforced errors in her campaign so far. She has come away with a positive differential of winners/unforced errors in every match.
Head to head: Muguruza leads the head to head 4-3, with five of their matches coming in the 2015 season. The Spaniard claimed their recent encounter in the WTA Finals, and also won their only meeting on grass.
Stat: Muguruza’s average opponent’s ranking in three matches is 78, while Kerber’s is 134. Muguruza won all three matches in convincing fashion, while Kerber has relatively struggled in every match so far. The German will have to improve widely if she is to stay at the top of the rankings.
Thoughts: Kerber has rarely produced any glimpses of her 2016 results at the All England Club, but the most impressive takeaway from her matches is that she has been fighting very well to survive so far. This aspect of Kerber will likely be a factor as Muguruza, albeit impressive this week, can produce surprising results from time to time. One of those just came recently in Eastbourne, where she produced a shocking, lethargic display to lose 0-6, 1-6 to Barbora Strycova. Muguruza has been working with Conchita Martinez for these two weeks, and it seems to be a good partnership so far as the World No.15 has been playing really well so far, knowing when to play aggressive and when to play the right shots. If she performs the same kind of level as she did against Cirstea, Muguruza will win this, but if she produces a small letdown a Kerber is definitely a player to take advantage of that.