Top seed Garbiñe Muguruza showed why she has developed her skills on grass to be the defending Wimbledon champion as she ripped past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets, for the loss of just three games.
Muguruza, who had a successful run to the semi-final after a couple of false starts in previous years in Birmingham went into the match knowing she had to be aggressive, and was rewarded for it with a convincing first win on grass this season.
She said, after her match: “It was a very fast match in general because she plays very aggressive and I play very aggressive. Since the first ball, I felt good in the match. I will play her a lot of times and I know she’s a very good opponent. So I’m very happy to start playing someone who is very good and feeling that I am in control of the game.
“I think I serve and return well. That’s very important. I came early here so the movement was pretty good as well. Hopefully it’s going to get better. But as a first match on grass, it’s good.”
With all the talk about Wimbledon wild-cards and qualifications, it seemed appropriate to take Muguruza, still only 24 years of age, back in time to when she started out playing the qualifying rounds.
Back in 2012, she was in the qualifying rounds, and for those used to seeing the pristine courts of SW19, the qualifying competition takes place at the Bank of England sports ground in Roehampton, and the conditions were very different.
She said: “It was very bad (smiling). I had to play the qualies at Wimbledon which is very different from the actual tournament. I think it is too different, in my opinion. You get to enjoy the best time in grass, but to get there you play in a field. It’s true. You play like in really like a field. It is tough. All qualies are tough, but especially that one, and I didn’t qualify. But that was my first experience.
“For the first couple of years, I’m, like, I don’t like this surface, until the year where I got tired of myself, like, being very negative. And I said, Okay, I’m going to be positive. I don’t care. And then it’s when I finally opened my mind a little bit to the grass.
“Of course, at the beginning I couldn’t figure really out how to play because I never played before. With the time, I think everybody feels like a little bit the same the first time you play on grass and the second time you feel better, the third better. Then you improve. And I think that’s what happened to me.”
Muguruza will face two-time Birmingham finalist Barbora Strycova in the second round, to be scheduled for Thursday.
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