Fixture: (10) Garbine Muguruza vs Sloane Stephens
Date: 29 April 2021
Tournament: Mutua Madrid Open 2021
Round: First round (Round of 64)
Venue: Madrid, Spain
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €2,614,465
Match timing: Approx. 5 pm local time, 8.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Garbine Muguruza vs Sloane Stephens preview
10th seed Garbine Muguruza will kickstart her 2021 Mutua Madrid Open campaign with a first-round match against Sloane Stephens.
Muguruza will be playing for the first time since a leg injury forced her to retire from her match against Yulia Putintseva at Charleston earlier this month. But she is still one of the most in-form players on tour, with a 21-6 win-loss record in 2021.
The Spaniard won the title in Dubai and finished as the runner-up at both the Yarra Valley Classic and the Qatar Open. The Madrid Open, however, has never been a happy hunting ground for Muguruza.
The 27-year-old has never progressed beyond the third round of her home event. In fact, she lost in the first round at the 2019 edition of the tournament.
Muguruza doesn't have an easy draw this time either. Sloane Stephens, a former Roland Garros runner-up, will be a significant test for the Spaniard in the first round.
Stephens' best result at the Madrid Open is a semifinal run in 2019, where she lost to eventual champion Kiki Bertens. That said, the American has endured a difficult start to 2021; she is coming into the Madrid event with a 4-6 win-loss record for the season.
Stephens began the year with a four-match losing streak, which she snapped with her win over Oceane Dodin at the Miami Masters. The 28-year-old's best result so far this year has been at Charleston, where she made the quarterfinals.
Garbine Muguruza vs Sloane Stephens head-to-head
The head-to-head between Garbine Muguruza and Sloane Stephens is currently tied at 2-2. Muguruza and Stephens have played each other on clay twice before.
While Stephens won their 2019 Roland Garros encounter, Muguruza triumphed the following year at the Italian Open.
Garbine Muguruza vs Sloane Stephens prediction
Garbine Muguruza's 2021 form makes her the favorite for this fixture. However, Sloane Stephens is an accomplished claycourter herself, and will be keen to make amends to what has otherwise been a woeful year so far.
The American moves and returns exceptionally well on the red dirt. She will pose a considerable threat to Muguruza's attacking play with her stubborn defense.
Stephens can also turn defense into attack at the flick of a wrist, and is particularly effective at changing the dynamic of a rally with a down-the-line drive.
Muguruza will have to play smartly, and maybe even take something off her shots at times. Stephens excels at redirecting pace, and Muguruza would look to mix things up to prevent the American from settling into a baseline groove.
Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to win in three sets.