Fixture: Garbine Muguruza vs Johanna Konta
Date: 18 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Round: Third round (Round of 16)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: WTA Premier 5
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €1,771,082
Match timing: 2.30 pm CEST, 6 PM IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN
Garbine Muguruza vs Johanna Konta preview
World No. 17 Garbine Muguruza faces off against World No. 13 Johanna Konta in the third round of the Italian Open on Friday.
Finalist at the 2020 Australian Open, Muguruza came into Rome on the back of some up-and-down results. She reached the quarterfinals both in Doha and Dubai before the lockdown, but then bowed out early against Tsvetana Pironkova at the US Open earlier this month.
That said, Muguruza has registered two big wins this week - over Americans Sloane Stephens and Coco Gauff. The Spaniard was particularly impressive with the way she held her nerve against Gauff in a hard-fought three-setter on Thursday.
Meanwhile Johanna Konta has also been guilty of severe inconsistency in 2020. The Brit started off the year with early exits in Brisbane, Melbourne and St. Petersburg, before picking up form and reaching the quarterfinal in Monterrey.
Since the lockdown, Konta has kept up her brand of hit-or-miss tennis. After an early loss in Lexington, the Brit reached the semifinal at the Western & Southern Open - where she lost to Vicotria Azarenka. She then produced another less-than-brilliant showing at a Grand Slam, going down to Sorana Cirstea at the US Open.
That said, Konta barely broke a sweat against Irina-Camelia Begu in the Rome second round on Thursday. The Brit cruised to a 6-0 6-4 win in a little over an hour, and could well be about to get on a roll again.
Garbine Muguruza vs Johanna Konta head-to-head
The meeting is the fifth between the two players on the WTA Tour. The head-to-head between Garbine Muguruza and Johanna Konta stands at a stalemate of 2-2, with each of their matches going to a deciding third set.
Muguruza won their previous meeting, a late-night second-round encounter at the Australian Open in 2019, while Konta defeated Muguruza twice in 2015 - at the US Open and at Eastbourne. Their first match, at Luxembourg in 2012, was won by Muguruza with a final score of 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
The Rome third-rounder will be the two players' first ever match on clay against each other.
Garbine Muguruza vs Johanna Konta prediction
Given their closeness in ranking and similarly unpredictable form, this match is particularly difficult to call.
Garbine Muguruza has been steadily getting better after recovering from the ankle injury that forced her out of Cincinnati. Her win against Gauff showed that she can last in long and energy-sapping matches as well.
The Spaniard is an aggressive player who likes to control the rallies from the back of the court with her immense firepower. But that style of play can also lead to a huge amount of unforced errors, which is the main reason why Muguruza has had such inconsistent results throughout her career.
Johanna Konta is similar in many ways, but relies a bit more on her serve to get her out of trouble. Her return game has also been good this week though; she broke Begu's serve five times in her last match.
The Brit, on her day, can outhit any opponent by stepping inside the baseline and dictating the tempo of the rallies. And Muguruza's possible fatigue after her marathon second-round match might make it difficult to counter that.
Prediction: Johanna Konta to win in three sets.Published 18 Sep 2020, 03:02 IST