Garbine Muguruza dealt with the late night challenge to move on at the Sydney International early Tuesday morning.
Carla Suarez-Navarro pulled out a late surge in the second set but erred just enough to give the young Spaniard the 6-3, 6-4 win at Ken Rosewall Arena on the grounds of the Sydney Olympic Tennis Center.
It was an all-Spanish start to the tournament in Sydney with two meeting for the first time in four years. Both Suarez-Navarro and Muguruza split their previous battles making it a rekindling of their career series.
The 30-year-old still hadn’t posted a victory this season making it essential to get on the board in her second tournament of the year.
The 25-year-old won just once at the Hopman Cup but with no points gained, it would be important to start racking them up with her starting the year as the World No. 18.
She opened service in the match giving Suarez-Navarro a single point before recording a successful service game.
Suarez-Navarro followed along but wouldn’t find herself in tight contention. Muguruza went on to take control of the match consolidating a great break after holding the 30-year-old in the third that made it appear to be a one-way track for her.
She had a 4-1 stance that forced Suarez-Navarro to call down coach Oscar Serrano for some advice. She got back on track splitting Muguruza’s lead in half but winning a break of service was still a challenge.
She denied her former doubles partner of getting it leading to the opportunity of serving with the 5-2 lead.
After a chat with coach Sam Sumyk during the changeover in which he told her that her shots were good but to respect her serve. Muguruza seemed to take the advice at face value getting a fight from Suarez-Navarro but managed to put the set away in 33 minutes.
Suarez-Navarro clearly had made more first serve shots count in the opening set but when it came to earning points, Muguruza had the major edge in that department holding her own at 76.
The match was slightly even when scoring winners and minimizing unforced errors but going on would determine the path of both players.
Instead of sitting the during the set break, Muguruza chose to stay on her feet and keep warm after having to wait for her time on the court because of the rain.
It didn’t help her contain her fellow countrywoman, but the serve she had in the second worked out in helping find her range. It resulted in an early break in the third game before fighting to save one from Suarez-Navarro.
During a great rally that gave the 30-year-old breakpoint, Muguruza responded with a crosscourt ace for deuce before being gifted the AD point. The world number 18 stayed focused until another return long gave her the upper hand.
Suarez-Navarro was in trouble after surrendering a double break to Muguruza despite a recovery where she saved two break points in the fifth. With the match looming to a finish, Suarez-Navarro battled during Muguruza’s service to catch another break in the match.
She successfully retrieved ground sitting two games back with the ball in hand in the seventh. Her shots were opening up the court using her tactics to their potential earning a serve to love.
With some leverage, the Spaniard called for Serrano who told her that she was getting into a terrific groove and that some minor adjustments would get her back on track.
Muguruza knew that she had to hold off Suarez-Navarro on serve and made that a reality gaining a 5-3 lead to go for the match win on her opponent’s response.
She opened the score to 40-15 intent on keeping herself close to Muguruza while the window of opportunity closed. After another important hold, the pressure was on the 25-year-old to get it done on her own terms.
It was a tug of war in the tenth as Suarez-Navarro made every chance on the return to redirect ball and get Muguruza to falter.
She managed to force deuce keeping the 25-year-old back behind the baseline but after an error, Muguruza moved into the court adding pressure to Suarez-Navarro that brought out another error to end the match in 1 hour 17 minutes.
“It’s been a tough day but its normal,” Muguruza said after the match. “We have to be prepared for these conditions and it was especially tough because Carla and I are friends which makes it difficult to play against each other.” She won’t have that similar difficulty in the second round where she’ll take on Kiki Bertens.