Saturday, 23 January 2016

Garbine joins the dumped seeds

The biggest test so far for third seed Garbine Muguruza was today's third round clash with 48th ranked Barbora Strycova from the Czech Republic, who had made the third round here twice previously, including last year.  A test the tall Spanish star should pass but not before a few battles along the way on Rod Laver Arena.

Strycova served first and a forehand winner was timely to draw level at 30-30. However Muguruza pushed Strycova wide and put away a forehand of her own to produce a break point.  It was saved and serve eventually held..  A brilliant passing forehand from Strycova followed by a loose shot from Muguruza brought two break points, and a cross court forehand winner confirmed the loss of serve.
2-0 Strycova.

A forehand return winner from Muguruza was countered by a backhand crosscourt winner and ace from the Czech player.  A series of deuces occurred before Strycova lost serve with a double fault, still leading 2-1 but back on serve.

Down 15-30, Muguruza attacked with success, a backhand winning the next point.  However the net was her enemy and she faced another break point.  A damaging forehand down the line from Strycova was as good as a winner and Muguruza had failed to hold serve again.  3-1 Strycova.

Strycova held easily and now moved to a 4-1 advantage, seriously threatening to take the first set from the heavily favoured player.

Muguruza finally found her range on serve, holding to love and trailing 2-4.  A great volley from Strycova for 15-0 followed by a forehand winner for 30-0.  40-0 thanks to a loose return, and a love game closed out with a forehand clean winner down the line.  5-2 and the third seed having to hold serve to remain in contention for set one.

Again the serve dominated until at 40-0 Strycova ripped a forehand winner past Muguruza.  The game went to Garbine and at 5-3 Barbora served for the set.

At 15-15 Muguruza hit a backhand wide and the Strycova earned two set points with a backhand winner. One was saved with excellent net play from Muguruza but Strycova took the set on the next point 6-3.

Things were tough now for Garbine, whose wins have come mostly after taking the first set.  

Even tougher with Strycova breaking the Spanish serve in the opening game of Set two.  Garbine fought hard and a backhand winner gave her 30-30 on the Czech serve.  A break point occurred and disappeared quickly.  A second chance for Muguruza also left the arena. Garbine set up a third break point with all court play but hit another backhand long and Strycova ultimately held serve for 2-0.

A strong service hold for the third seed and she lagged behind 3-6 1-2

Strycova had no problems this time on serve and extended her advantage to 3-1.  Service holds were exchanged and the score was 4-2 and dangerously close to an exit for Muguruza.

After a long struggle on serve, Muguruza finally relented and lost serve for the second time in the set, trailing now 2-5 and giving Strycova the chance to serve for a huge upset.

Barbora Strycova served out the match 6-3 6-2 and made the fourth round of the Aus Open for the first time.  The number 2, 3 and 8 seeds have been ripped from the bottom half of the draw before the round of sixteen.

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