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US Open: Muchova earns big win over Muguruza in a twilight thriller

Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
Feature
574   //    30 Aug 2018, 11:29 IST

2018 US Open - Day 3

Garbine Muguruza did not expect her night to go the way it did at the US Open early Thursday morning. Karolina Muchova made serious adjustments after being 0-5 down in the opening set to devastate the Spaniard in a long three setter 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 at Louis Armstrong Stadium on the grounds of the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center. The victory for the young Czech came just several minutes after 1 a.m. in New York in what was the biggest upset of her career.

This was a first meeting between the two and a massive challenge for the Czech in her first main draw. She handled the competition that was to her level but instantly found herself in a new part of the spectrum facing the former world number one. Muguruza got through quickly with her opening round match against Shuai Zhang giving up three games. With plenty of energy stored up from two days ago, the Spaniard could find it comfortable to handle business against the 202nd ranked Czech.

She opened the scoring with a serve to love against Muchova who had ways to answer but couldn’t execute. The Czech got under fire fast from the Spaniard who had a lot more than her opponent could handle in the second game. With her feeling comfortable early, Muguruza went for a third straight win but witnessed Muchova engaging in a fight to get on the board. She made her way to deuce but capturing the AD point wasn’t in the cards as a failed drop shot gave Muguruza the three-game streak.

The Czech almost had a game in her hands but the unforced errors allowed the Spaniard to climb back into the thick of it. A double fault turned the tables for the world number 12 who marched forward. It was soon her chance to play for the set with Muchova unable to bring the same degree of difficulty of play that she faced. She brought what she could on serve in the sixth delivering a hold with the first serve producing an ace that gave her a win. It gave the 22-year-old enough confidence to show Muguruza fight that became a break. The short streak got the attention of the 12th seed who saw that her opponent adjusted with the increase of winners.

She had three in a row that was concerning for the 24-year-old who served for the set a second time. In a need to quench Muchova’s fire Muguruza rushed to finish the ninth after a great winning return went to the Czech. The Spaniard capped it with a crosscourt shot that gave her a sigh of relief after 37 minutes. While the 12th seed had her offense together, Muchova was able to get to 50 percent overall but needed more to remain competitive in the second set.

She had a 40-0 start to the set but gave just enough to Muguruza to get to deuce. With some magnificent answers on the breaks, she held with her poise coming up big for it. A break was awarded to the Czech due to errors from the 24-year-old. It was soon 3-0 for the qualifier as Muguruza made the errors that just about killed her chances to turn the tables. She came back to pick up two but was tailing back to the margin in the sixth when Muchova got it locked down.

Muguruza tried to pull off the comeback but the Czech was in a strong stance that got her into a position where she denied the Spaniard an easy night and moved into Thursday with another set to play. It took 56 minutes for the 22-year-old to be in a serious position to take down the 12th seed who had too many issues with the errors that had her fighting to stay alive in the tournament.

She created a two-game push for herself hoping that it would lead to ending the set on her terms. It didn’t go that way as Muchova had a point to make with a hold already lost. She made sure that the third didn’t go the same way playing every point with the Spaniard. They reached a few breaks and ten minutes before the Czech got the win she needed. The effort put in by both became a question of who had energy left in the tank. After Muchova broke Muguruza in the fourth, she held to take a 3-2 which became the penultimate moment for the Spaniard to hold. She did just that to stay deadlocked at three all to try and force the Czech to break first as they neared the 1 a.m. mark.

When the first hour of Thursday was in the books, both remained at a 4-4 score with Muchova serving to keep out front. She earned a big moment for herself in the shape of a serve to love that had her first opportunity to play for the match against the seeded star. With her game in the right place she wanted it, Muchova earned match point but blew it with a forehand into the net. She gained another with her tenacious spiriting that saw Muguruza hit too hard and fall long of the baseline bringing her troubles to a close after 2 hours and 27 minutes under the lights.

“I was surviving but I think the people helped me a lot here and gave me energy,” Muchova said to ESPN during her on-court chat. “From the start, it’s like the first big match for me on this stage so I was pretty nervous but I got used to it a little and somehow made it out.” With the completion of the top part of the draw, the 22-year-old will go at it against Ashleigh Barty of Australia where she’ll hope for similar results to continue her maiden journey.







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Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
A writer with eight years experience in sportswriting. He specializes in the National Hockey League, WTA Tennis and both summer and winter Olympic sports.
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