Muguruza wins debut at WTA Finals + Day 3 Previews – PHOTOS

By Ros Satar

  • Garbiñe Muguruza [2] def. Lucie Safarova [8] 6-3 7-6(4)
  • Angelique Kerber [6] def. Petra Kvitova [4] 6-2 7-6(3)
  • Tuesday features Agnieszka Radwanska v Flavia Pennetta with Maria Sharapova v Simona Halep closing out the day

SINGAPORE – No. 2 seed Garbiñe Muguruza set out her stall in the infamous grup of lefties that she intended to be the one in control, while former cvhampion Petra Kvitova failed to get past Angelique Kerber.

Garbiñe Muguruza [2] def. Lucie Safarova [8] 6-3 7-6(4)

 

In the most bizarre grouping of all, with Muguruza the lone warrior against the ‘cult of lefties’ it was down to the Spaniard to exact some revenge for her loss in the doubles at the hands of Safarova (and partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands).

From the outset, Muguruza looked just a little sharper, with Safarova still finding her legs after missing the Asian swing due to a bacterial infection, not to mention flying out last and having to cope with the inevitable jet lag. Muguruza, in contrast, has been here since wining the title in Beijing and by all rights should be the best acclimated of the eight!

The quality of the match upped considerably in the second set as it looked as though Safarova was grabbing the second set by the scruff of its neck, breaking Muguruza in the opening game. The Spaniard fought to get things back on an even keel, and as they pushed each other to the second set tie-break.

Once Muguruza had nudged ahead, she had enough of a cushion to protect her from a late flurry from the Czech before closing out her maiden singles win, putting her on a par with top seed Simona Halep.

 

Angelique Kerber [6] def. Petra Kvitova [4] 6-2 7-6(3)

 

This could have promised so much – but instead it put the 2011 champion Kvitova on the back foot, as Kerber came out firing. A slow start on a slow court was never going to help the Czech, as she had no reply to Kerber’s early break, surrendering another at the end of the set.

She tried to make a better fist of it in the second set, taking the initiative more and actually nudging ahead, but before long that momentum got lost in the Singapore haze, as Kerber hustled her way to a tie-break.

Once the German was ahead, there really was no other winner on deck, as Kerber picks up the ‘W’ and while Kvitova may well feel confident of a win over Safarova, having never lost to her compatriot, she has never faced second seed Muguruza on the tour, but on current form, is unlikely to come out on top.

 

DAY 3 PREVIEWS
Agnieszka Radwanska [5] v Flavia Pennetta [7]

 

Although the Pole has the lead in their head to head, their battles in the past have tended to flip between them, but in what could well be their last match together, can Pennetta even out her 2015 record?

While she is happy with her decision to call time on her career, she would probably be the first to admit that she must come out far more aggressively in this match than she did in her round robin opener against top seed Simona Halep.

By the time Pennetta had found a more attack in the game the damage had already been done by Halep, who had ripped through the first set in almost indecent haste, wrapping up the first set in 25 minutes without the loss of a game.

For Radwanska though it was another story and she was one half of a high quality fight to the finish with Maria Sharapova, where ultimately some scatterbrained decisions and indecisiveness eventually cost her dear as the Russian picked up her first completed match since July.

So with an ‘L’ a-piece this is a must win to keep hopes of advancing in the tournament alive. For Pennetta, no-one wats to see her bow out of her tennis career on the receiving end of three bad round robin performances, but it was Radwanska who was victorious the last time they faced each other in Doha earlier this year.

Radwanska brought out the best in Sharapova on opening night, but where they are known for three set chess matches on court, alas wins between this pair seem to be in the routine straight sets category since 2010.

Radwanska has the edge probably in terms of more recent form coming in, having picked up the Tianjin title, but with pride and the end of a career on the line, can Pennetta put in a final flourish?

Radwanska v Pennetta is scheduled in the Stadium, not before 3pm (7am GMT).

 

Simona Halep [1] v Maria Sharapova [3]

 

Creeping ever closer should be the watchword of Halep if she looks at her record against the 2004 champion Maria Sharapova. Facing each other three times in arguably Halep’s best year since her 2013 breakthrough, last year the Romanian pushed Sharapova to three sets each time they played and there is no reason to believe that she won’t do so again, if not break her duck against her.

However Sharapova proved in her opener that she is not only fitter and ready for the tournament, but that she has certainly sharpened up her repertoire. Her footwork looked on point and her variety of shot against Radwanska was pleasing.

While the medium-slow pace of the court plays into scrambler Halep’s hands she was playing extremely aggressively against Pennetta, and admitted that there was still room for improvement.

Sharapova cannot be relied upon to start as slowly, and in fact many here think she will actually improve as she gets match play under her belt, but this could well be another high quality bout.

Halep v Sharapova is scheduled in the Stadium, not before 7:30pm (11:30am GMT).

Britwatch Sport’s Ros Satar is at the WTA Finals in Singapore, covering the event for Tennis Panorama News – follow her match reports here.

 

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