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BNP Paribas Open: Muguruza holds back Bertens in tough three setter

Garbine Muguruza jumps big on the serve during her match with Kiki Bertens at the BNP Paribas Open
Garbine Muguruza jumps big on the serve during her match with Kiki Bertens at the BNP Paribas Open
Rudy Martinez
Modified 13 Mar 2019

Garbine Muguruza had on and off success but pulled out a tough win at the BNP Paribas Open Tuesday. With Kiki Bertens all over her from the first to last point, the Spaniard came out in three sets 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 to win on Stadium One at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. It was the first time that she made it to a quarterfinal in a premier mandatory in two years.

The two met for the fifth time with the Dutch star in charge of their series. While her three wins have come on clay courts, she hoped to add another with the recent success of beating opponents on the hard courts of Indian Wells. Muguruza got a pass of facing the tremendous serve and return of Serena Williams who retired suddenly during her match. With a lot of gas in the tank, the 25-year-old eyed her ability to take the hardcourt win she has against Bertens and notch another one with it.

Bertens came out with a serve that was challenged by Muguruza who answered every point that was won by the 27-year-old. They had a short tug of war for the AD point with the win remaining in her hands. Muguruza knew that she would have to implement defence as the Dutch power hitter returned to go for the break. She gave it right back with moments of court positioning that assisted in securing the break over Bertens in the third.

A consolidation of the break with Muguruza holding in the fourth gave her a two game edge over the seventh seed. She held herself together while the Spaniard’s first serve faded away. It quickly resulted in a tie through six as the advice from Berten’s coach Raemon Sluiter worked out. When she took the lead back after the seventh, Muguruza called out Sam Sumyk who told her to respect the forehand, look for angles and kept her confidence high telling her that her game was as good as it can be.

While it was a good informative chat, the challenge from Bertens was alive and knew what had to be done to suppress it. She had the lead in the eighth but the errors allowed Muguruza to regroup. She was very good with the forehand that killed off Berten’s chance for the AD point and secured it on her second try. With the 5-3 lead in favour of the 20th seed, Bertens attempted to limit the errors on serve and succeeded by holding her to a point.

To keep the set going, the seventh seed got a jump on Muguruza’s serve but missed big point opportunities. A lucky break came on a crosscourt error from the Spaniard but recovered with a wide return from Bertens for deuce. On a second break point chance, Bertens secured the victory with a line drive that levelled the score. She carried the momentum on serve but fought Muguruza deep into the 11th as she got to deuce. It was a breakdown with unforced errors that had them struggling to contain the AD point but after three breaks, it was Bertens stringing her third game in a row.

To make sure she forced a tiebreak, Muguruza went all out to make sure she got to every ball during the 12th. The 25-year-old had a serve to love in play but errors cost her deep to bring Bertens to deuce. Both had a difficult time locking down the AD point with errors killing off the chance. It wasn’t until a winner and great response on the final rally of the set that she got the win on Muguruza’s error into the net ending one hour and nine minutes. Bertens had the first serve at a high scoring 86 percent for points and a dozen winners. With that and her opponent’s forehand the cause of concern, the Dutch star had a serious grip going forward.

With a four-game winning streak under her belt, the seventh seed added a fifth to begin the second set well. Muguruza wanted the same and nearly had it with a serve to love. Before she could lock it down, she allowed Bertens back and force deuce. The 25-year-old saved two breaks before her first AD point of the game was enough to stay level. She made a statement in the third gaining points on terrific returns to consolidate the hold.

A third game went to the Spaniard who suddenly had all the elements of her game working correctly. Unwilling to go down a double break, Bertens tried putting down some tough shots but found herself going to deuce. The errors cost her that chance and instead dropped the hold that continued Muguruza’s dominance.

After many attempts to earn a shutout, one came to her on very strong hitting that gave her a 5-1 hold with a third set looming. She clear had Bertens on the ropes and jumped to a 30-0 run before she acted to level back. A key moment gave Muguruza set point to cap her surge of the set that took 33 minutes to finish. She had done very well on the first serve winning 12 of 13 with Bertens assisting with her struggle. She couldn’t be on point with the serve and only scored 18 points to have to go into a third.


The 20th seed wasn’t ready to give up her sizable winning streak and notched her seventh straight holding back Bertens. Having enough of the match running one way, the 27-year-old rallied to a well-deserved win after fighting on deuce for a short time. She broke the Spaniard in the third but what looked to be a change in tide ended up being a glimmer of hope gone. Muguruza broke back to level at two-all before they both got back to holding serves. Through eight, the players kept tight in the final set with neither one having a true edge.

Muguruza made the first strike to take the lead at 5-4 with a key hold that had Bertens under pressure. She got to match point in the 10th where a long rally ended with the Dutch star going for a lob but saw her tournament come to an end when it fell wide of the line. The fight for the point was nearly the longest of the match that took Muguruza 2 hours and 25 minutes to play.

“It was very very tough,” said Muguruza to Andrew Krasny after the match. “We both played very well and it was a battle pretty much to the last point.” When asked about being back in a quarterfinal, the 25-year-old had a pleasing answer. “It’s been a while since I’m not here so I was training hard to be in this situation and happy that I have the chance.” She’ll go into it facing WTA sophomore Bianca Andreescu who won her match in straight sets.

Published 13 Mar 2019, 07:51 IST
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