French Open: Garbine Muguruza defeats Francesca Schiavone in battle of the former champions

Garbine Muguruza got her title defence at Roland Garros off to the perfect start after she came through a tough test against former champion Francesca Schiavone in straight sets 6-2, 6-4.

Making her final appearance at the French Open, Schiavone gave it everything she had out on court Philippe Chatrier but an early double break in the first set put the Spaniard in control. The Italian recovered from a break down in the second and even had a chance to up a break herself but Muguruza hung tough and closed it out in just over an hour and a half.

That win sets up a tough second round clash with Estonian Anett Kontaveit, who defeated Monica Niculescu in straight sets 7-5, 6-1. So far on day two there have also been wins on the women’s side for Yulia Putintseva, Richel Hogenkamp and Ons Jabeur.

* Article originally published by me for UBITennis.net *

The defending champion made the most impressive of starts, capitalising on two double faults early on from Schiavone to break to love, finishing with a backhand winner. Muguruza’s raw power bullied her opponent on the court and the Spaniard was able to punish second serve returns and secure a double break to move 3-0 in front.

Rather against the run of play the Spaniard through in a loose service game, missing two backhands down the line wide to gift Schiavone two break back points. The Italian only needed the one opportunity to get her first game on the board, finishing with a short forehand cross court winner. Taking that game really settled the 2010 champion’s early nerves as she was then able to stave off three break points on her way to battling to get her first hold and move just one game behind the third seed.

There was an unfortunate halt in proceedings following the fifth game after a lady in the crowd fainted. Thankfully she received treatment and upon resumption the pendulum swung back in Muguruza’s favour as her opponent’s game began to unravel. The defending champion held to move 4-2 in front and raced to three break points at 0-40. Schiavone saved the first but could not resist the Spaniard’s pressure as she fell further behind. The fourth seed had no problems serving out the set as she sealed it 6-2.

Muguruza stamped her authority on the match early on in their second, breaking the 2010 champion’s serve in the opening game. Everything was looking good for the Spaniard up a set and 2-0 but Schiavone dug deep and brought herself back into the set after drawing errors from the fourth seed to secure the break back.

Schiavone held to move in front for the first time in the set up 3-2 and had the chance to break the Spaniard in the sixth game to really pile the pressure on the defending champion but she was unable to capitalise. For the first time in the match both players were competing at their best but the Italian was unable to sustain her level locked in at 4-4. A few untimely errors from the 2010 champion saw her agonisingly drop serve to love again to give Muguruza the chance to serve for the match.

The final game of the match was a marathon, lasting nearly 10 minutes before Muguruza closed out the win. Schiavone had a chance to break back, but the defending champion produced a timely one-two punch combination to snuff out the chance. In the Italian’s last match at an event where she has so many great memories from her career, she laid it all out the line and gave it her all, saving three match points before the defending champion finally closed out a 6-2, 6-4 victory.

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