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Madrid Masters: Muguruza shows focus to win late-night match

Rudy Martinez
193   //    09 May 2018, 03:58 IST

Mutua Madrid Open - Day Four
Mutua Madrid Open - Day Four

Garbine Muguruza dealt with a very tough match that had her trailing behind at the Mutua Madrid Open Tuesday night. After overcoming the lost opening set the world No. 3 rallied to beat down Donna Vekic 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 on Manolo Santana Court at La Caja Magica.

The players met four years ago when the up and coming Spaniard was getting into the groove of full time on the WTA Tour. While she put up a fight against the Croatian in straight sets, the end result was defeat which she wouldn’t let happen on her home soil.

She handled her first-round match with ease against Shuai Peng allowing her six games with two coming in the final set. With plenty of good coming from the Spanish players on the day, the world number three would try to complete day four at the tournament with another advancement into the midway point of the competition.

Knowing her opponent’s popularity, Vekic didn’t waste any time on the court and pulled together a break to love followed by a service hold in the second game.

The momentum was still in the hands of the Croatian who had Muguruza figured out winning a third straight keeping the home crowd out of the match. Unwilling to accept another loss, Muguruza’s offense woke up taking Vekic for the break. She consolidated another victory holding serve to wake up her supporters in the stands.

They were once again silenced in the sixth as Vekic returned to her winning ways holding off the Spaniard before consolidating a double break for a 5-2 score. The 21-year-old served for the set easily attaining three set points to smash an ace ending 33 minutes of play.

It was her only ace of the match so far but the performance on her first serve allowed her to win 28 points compared to Muguruza who only won 17 in her struggles.

Vekic began the second set by hunting down a break and her fourth consecutive game win. Muguruza didn’t want that to happen and pulled out all the stops to play on deuce and win on serve.

Vekic made her mark in the next game followed by Muguruza who was finding herself in an offensive groove. It suddenly was over in the fifth when Muguruza was broken by the 21-year-old who once again enjoyed quieting the crowd taking a 3-2 hold.

The former number one managed a break that kept her alive and even in the set but more had to be done in order to dictate the young Croatian.

She regained the lead after seven before calling Sam Sumyk back out in order to get tips on how to adjust the remainder of her game and sticking to her tactics. After another neck and neck run with Vekic, Muguruza held firm in the ninth to fight for a deciding third set.

The Spaniard put the heat on Vekic’s offense frustrating her to the point of smashing her racket and eventually losing out on an upset. The set took 48 minutes for Muguruza to improve the second serve, notch 14 winners and hold her young opponent back.

During the break, Vekic’s coach Torben Beltz came out to help his athlete reset and try and play back to how the match started.

Muguruza opened with a hold of the Croatian before making it a troubling moment for Vekic. She soon found herself down 0-3 with the Spaniard flawless on first serve points and a solid return game on the second serve. When it looked as if a runaway was possible with the 21-year-old committing her fourth double fault, she rallied back to hold serve in the fourth.

Muguruza kept the margin alive at three taking the fifth swiftly over the Croatian. She fought with all her might to make game six-count but another double fault came to open the door for the third seed.

She took it away from Vekic to set up a shot for the match at 5-1. With the crowd steadied during the late hours of Tuesday, they watched Muguruza rally back from 0-30 to reach match point at the two-hour mark.

She launched an ace that concluded a long night on the court and a comeback that saw her smiling just minutes shy of midnight. It was a 121-minute match that Muguruza hoped to not have again but all wouldn’t be guaranteed as she faced Daria Kasatkina in the third round next.

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Rudy Martinez
A writer with eight years experience in sportswriting. He specializes in the National Hockey League, WTA Tennis and both summer and winter Olympic sports.
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