Fixture: Garbine Muguruza vs Sloane Stephens
Date: 15 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Round: First Round (Round of 64)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: WTA Premier 5
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €1,771,082
Match timing: Not before 7 pm CEST, 10.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN
Garbine Muguruza vs Sloane Stephens preview
In one of the most exciting first-round clashes at the 2020 Italian Open, 9th seed Garbine Muguruza will take on Sloane Stephens on Tuesday.
It is an unfortunate draw for both players, who have been trying to find their feet since the resumption of tennis. Sloane Stephens and Garbine Muguruza have both endured a torrid run of form since the tour restarted, and would have hoped for an easier start to the claycourt swing.
Sloane Stephens hasn’t had a good 2020 so far. The American has won a mere three matches all year, and hasn't succeeded in going past the third round at any tournament.
Since the resumption of tennis, Stephens has played at the Top Seed Open, the Western & Southern Open, and the recently concluded US Open. All combined, the American has won just two matches in what has been a shocker of a hard-court swing for her.
But now, as the focus shifts to clay, both Muguruza and Stephens will be looking to start afresh. This is a surface that has favored them both in the past.
Stephens has previously acknowledged clay to be her favorite surface, while Muguruza is comfortable on dirt too despite preferring hard-courts. The brick dust brings out the athleticism of both players, who excel at all-court movement.
Garbine Muguruza will be hoping that she has seen the last of the ankle injury which forced her to withdraw from the Western & Southern Open. With a grueling schedule ahead, the Spaniard would need to be able to rely on her body.
Garbine Muguruza vs Sloane Stephens head-to-head
Sloane Stephens leads Garbine Muguruza by a margin of 2-1 in the head-to-head. The only time Muguruza won was back in 2015, and their only encounter on clay was won by Sloane Stephens in 2019.
Garbine Muguruza vs Sloane Stephens prediction
Garbine Muguruza and Sloane Stephens are both adept claycourters. They are both very powerful all-court players, but Muguruza is the more aggressive of the two.
Sloane Stephens usually adopts a more measured approach, drawing her opponents into long rallies. But this could be disadvantageous against Muguruza, who excels at finding winners from all over the court - especially from the baseline.
The Spaniard will also hold the edge in the forecourt area as she has displayed enormous improvement in that department over the last couple of years. Muguruza will be hoping that her greater variety and dexterity around the net leave Stephens flat-footed.
This is a match that will likely be decided on very close margins, and could swing either way. That said, Muguruza might just hold the edge because of her ability to close points out early.
Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to win in three sets.Published 14 Sep 2020, 15:34 IST