Garbine Muguruza suffered another loss at the hands of her grass court rival at the Nature Valley Classic Thursday. Barbora Strycova had a lot of good elements in her game that was just too much for the top seed to overcome capturing the match in straight sets 6-2, 6-4 on Ann Jones Centre Court at Edgbaston Prior Tennis Club. It recorded Strycova’s first top ten victory of the season and her third straight against the world number three.
The series was tied last year by the Czech who got an early pass in the second set in Beijing. With a grass court win to her name at Eastbourne, it leaves the Spaniard with a lot to be done in order to counteract the skills of her opponent. Muguruza was clean in her opening round win against Pavlyuchenkova while Jennifer Brady made it a tough day for Strycova, as the second match on grass for the two commences, it would determine who would get more time to compete in order to prepare for the third major of the year.
Both opened with a hold of service but it was quickly apparent that Strycova had the stronger of the two. She proved it with a break in the third before widening the gap with a second straight in the fourth. Avoiding the double break was difficult for the Spaniard who had a number of unforced errors that gave Strycova opportunities but couldn’t lock them down. She kept her service game together before giving it another shot in the eighth that closed out the set keeping the Spaniard at a loss for progress ending the set in 35 minutes.
During the break, Muguruza’s coach Sam Sumyk came out asking her to push out the intensity and move in on the ball as it was clear that little came from it in the first. She had 15 unforced errors that showed on points won where the Czech outscored her 32-19. Muguruza served to begin the second and nearly had a love service in hand but couldn’t land a winner on the fourth drive of the game. Strycova forced deuce but didn’t get a chance to complete the sweep as the top seed captured game point.
A good break from Muguruza gave her a 2-0 lead moving in on a lobbed shot nailing the winner near the open court. Strycova denied her another game on serve and broke the Spaniard to make up some ground. She secured her first hold of the set getting into a pace that she would not let slip away from her. The Czech matched every statement Muguruza made through eight games carrying enough momentum to try and turn the tide back her way.
She succeeded in gaining the break in the ninth that had Muguruza calling for Sumyk who asked what he could do to help her save the match. Since there was not much of an answer, he gave her ideas on how to stay in as long as she could with Strycova serving for the match. The Czech reached three match points but saw the Spaniard knock out two of them attempting to make it tough for her opponent. A double fault made it deuce on the third match point adding pressure to what looked to be a clean win. She caught a break with a wide ball from Muguruza getting a fourth attempt that saw the return land long and wide ending the match in 1 hour and 26 minutes.
“I’m very happy with my match today and I played pretty good today,” Strycova said after the match.” She scored 71 percent of first serve points and converted on five of eight break points. With a quick finish to the afternoon, Strycova would await her quarterfinal opponent between Daria Kasatkina and Lesia Tsurenko.