Wimbledon 2017 Semifinal Preview: Garbine Muguruza vs Magdalena Rybarikova

Garbine Muguruza is into her third Slam semifinal, and is the favourite to win this match against surprise package Magdalena Rybarikova. But can Rybarikova continue her astounding form to reach her first ever final at such a big stage? Continue reading on for the preview…

(14) Garbine Muguruza [No.15] vs Magdalena Rybarikova [No.87]

Overview: Garbine Muguruza has put together an inconsistent two years or so since her French Open triumph, but her form seems to be appearing again just in time for the Spaniard. Can she claim her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon? It seems really possible after her impressive performances at the All England Club so far. Muguruza notched her fourth consecutive victory over Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals, cleaning up her unforced errors in the last two sets to claim her win. The Spaniard eventually hit 55 winners to 50 unforced errors in the match, where she charged into the net aggressively on many occassions. Muguruza won only 50% of points at the net in the first set, but insisted on the play and it worked, eventually winning 65% net points at the end.

There were some crucial moments where Kerber could have sealed her victory. Muguruza saved mutliple break points in the second set before breaking the Kerber serve at 4-5. Also in the decider, Garbine saved break points to stay on serve. Her persistence finally paid off, breaking serve once again at just the right moment. The stats show that Muguruza saved seven out of ten break point opportunities throughout the whole match.

The World No.15 cleaned it up a lot against Kuznetsova, committing 14 winners to 15 unforced errors. Muguruza was much less aggressive against the Russian but was really solid, turning defence into offence on most points and eventually overpowering Kuznetsova. Garbine was aggressive yet solid enough on the backhand wing and took advantage of three break point chances, breaking twice, where Kuznetsova went 0/3 on break point opportunities.

Just five months ago in Germany, Magdalena Rybarikova made her comeback in an ITF 25K event. Five months later, the Slovak has reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time! Rybarikova was looming as a dark horse before Wimbledon, but most (including me) denied her the chance after the draw came out that she was due to play soon-to-be World No.1 Karolina Pliskova in the second round. Well, she proved us wrong, and now she is all the way into the last four. Magdalena played a brilliant match, winning 25 of 36 points at the net and hitting even more winners than Pliskova (which is rare!). Her good form continued, beating Lesia Tsurenko, Petra Martic and CoCo Vandeweghe enroute to this stage. The Slovak did well against Vandeweghe yesterday; although overpowered at times, she hanged on in the important moments and a sort-of-fading Vandeweghe handed her the win after the rain delay.

Head to head: The duo are tied at two wins apiece, with their recent and only encounter on grass won by Rybarikova, 6-3 6-1!

Stat: Both players are fond of coming into the net to finish points, especially Muguruza although sometimes she can make some mistakes about when to come forward! Rybarikova has won 22/35 (63%) points at the net in her last two matches, while Muguruza has a 45/69 (65%) record. The key to play aggressively and be able to come forward usually starts with a big serve, and Rybarikova has gotten 63% of first serves in her last two matches, and has won 71% of those points. Muguruza has gotten 64% of first serves into play in her recent two matches, winning 67% of points. The Spaniard is at the 56-57 mark for second serve points won while Rybarikova is lingering at 40% for this stat.

Thoughts: Muguruza’s results this year have been up and down, but it has been ‘up’ all the way for Muguruza so far at the All England Club! Surprising that the Spaniard has done so well her after such a lethargic and depressing loss to Barbora Strycova just in Eastbourne two weeks ago, winning just one game. Muguruza has been much more smarter when trying to play aggressive, going for more contained but offensive strokes on her weaker forehand wing while going for broke on her stronger backhand side. The volleys can be a problem for Muguruza sometimes but when she’s just on fire, she can beat anyone.

Rybarikova is now the 17th straight first-time semifinalist at a Grand Slam (check WTA website) and she has probably been waiting so long for this, always performing very well on grass but just unable to bring her form to the lawns of Wimbledon. The Slovak has won four ITF titles this year, two on grass in Surbiton and Ilkley, and now with this result she is projected to climb back into the world’s top 50.

I remain a tad worried for Muguruza although she has the game to beat Rybarikova, but the latter can really mix it up with the slice and different strokes and that’s what happened with Pliskova. But if Garbine can stick to her gameplan and commit less unforced errors, she’ll probably proceed into slam final #3.

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