Fixture: (12) Garbine Muguruza vs (5) Elina Svitolina
Date: 13 May 2021
Tournament: Internazionali BNL d'italia 2021
Round: Third round (Round of 16)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: $1,835,490
Match timing: Not before 6 pm local time, 4 pm GMT, 12 pm EST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Garbine Muguruza vs Elina Svitolina preview
12th seed Garbine Muguruza squares off against fifth seed Elina Svitolina in a blockbuster Round of 16 showdown at the Italian Open on Thursday.
Muguruza, who made the semis here last year, looked in danger of crashing out in the second round on Wednesday. The former French Open champion had no answer to Bernarda Pera's aggressive hitting in the first set, but she rebounded for a 2-6, 6-0, 7-5 win.
The comeback showed the kind of confidence that Muguruza has accumulated from her blazing start to the 2021 season. With a title in Dubai and a couple of other finals to her name, the former World No. 1 is looking like a contender for the biggest titles in the sport again.
She will likely need all of her self-belief and fighting spirit on Thursday as her next opponent, Elina Svitolina, is far from an easy opponent.
Svitolina has five claycourt titles to her name, with two of them coming at the Foro Italico itself. The Ukrainian loves playing on this surface, having also made the quarterfinals of the French Open thrice.
Svitolina might not have tasted title glory this season yet, but a return to familiar conditions in the Italian capital could very much awaken the champion in her. And that was already evident in her 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over 2019 French Open semifinalist Amanda Anisimova on Wednesday.
After being blown away by the young American in the first set, Svitolina dug deep to get the win in 1 hour and 38 minutes. The fighting performance would have given the World No. 6 a huge boost of confidence ahead of what could be yet another tough battle with Muguruza.
Garbine Muguruza vs Elina Svitolina head-to-head
Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina have crossed paths as many as 11 times on the tour, with Svitolina holding a slender 6-5 lead in the head-to-head.
That said, it is Muguruza who has a 2-1 advantage in claycourt meetings. The Spaniard won their very first showdown at Roland Garros in 2012, and added another win in Paris seven years later.
Svitolina's only win on the red dirt came at Rome in 2017, when Muguruza retired while trailing 1-4 in the first set.
Garbine Muguruza vs Elina Svitolina prediction
Both Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina are strong claycourters, but they differ significantly in their approach and mindset. While each of them loves to patrol the baseline and move opponents from side to side, Svitolina has a habit of recoiling into a defensive shell when put under pressure.
Muguruza would look to take advantage of that, but she needs to figure out a way to keep her serve in good shape. Against Bernarda Pera, the Spaniard coughed up as many as nine double faults while getting a paltry 61.4% of first serves in.
A repeat of those numbers against Svitolina could spell doom for Muguruza, as the Ukrainian is a very proficient returner. Svitolina has tremendous foot speed too, and will try to get as many balls back in play as possible to elicit errors out of the Spaniard.
ALSO READArticle Continues below
That said, if Muguruza is in the zone from the beginning and takes care of her serve throughout, things might get tough for Svitolina. Muguruza has the power to hit the ball past any opponent, and the Ukrainian might struggle to keep up with her if the match goes the distance.
Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to win in three sets.