Two-time finalist Barbora Strycova knew she could fancy her chances against defending Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza having beaten her at Eastbourne last year, and she came out swinging for the fences once more. First blood went to the feisty Czech as she opened up a 3-1 lead. A break in the penultimate game and a service hold to love helped her on her way to the first set in convincing fashion.
Muguruza took the initiative in the second set but was twice pegged back as she looked to try and gain a foot-hold in the match, before Strycova broke at the tail end of the set, and finally got the job done on a fourth very nervy match point.
‘Nothing really worries me’ in terms of Wimbledon build-up
The second time around in terms of fielding questions about her title defence, and Muguruza seems to be handling the whole furore far better than she did last year as Roland Garros loomed up.
Birmingham had, up until last year, been a terrible tournament for the Spaniard with two first round losses before she finally hit her groove last year, reaching the semi-final. With no other warm-up tournament in the schedule before Wimbledon, was the two-time Grand Slam champion worried?
She said: “No, I just think it’s a difficult match. Barbora plays very good on grass. I think her style of game suits very good the surface. No, I wish I would play more matches, but nothing really worries me. I just want to learn and next time I face her, I want to win. I think I played here three matches also with the doubles. Yeah, I didn’t feel bad on the grass court.”
Her loss means we are denied the possible match-up between her and Daria Kasatkina her doubles partner. More usually known for playing doubles with Carla Suarez Navarro, she joked in her pre-tournament press conference that she missed that partnership and that it was almost like ‘cheating’ on her. But what of her on-court relationship with the young Russian?
“I had fun, even though yesterday was very tough loss because we had match point. We’re not used to play super tiebreak. It’s like heart attack after heart attack. It’s so difficult. Our opponents play every week this kind of moments. We have a tiebreak in singles, but it’s not as fast. I really enjoy it. I think she’s a very nice girl. Let’s see if we can play more in the future.”
Play continues with the quarter-finals at the Nature Valley Classic, from 11:30am.
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