French Open: Garbiñe Muguruza continues her title defense into the second week

Defending French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza struggled in her opening two matches but she battled past, the feisty 27th seed Yulia Putintseva, 7-5, 6-2 to advance to the fourth round of the French Open for the fourth successive year.

French Open: Garbiñe Muguruza continues her title defense into the second week
The French Open champion is finding form at the right time (Photo by Lionel Bonaventure / Getty)
Garbiñe Muguruza
2 0
Yulia Putintseva

The first match of the day on Day 6 of the French Open on Court Philippe Chatrier saw the fourth seed Garbiñe Muguruza show her fighting qualities against the tricky, 27th seed from Kazakhstan, Yulia Putintseva to reach the fourth round of the French Open. The Spaniard came through Francesca Schiavone in straight sets in the first round but was almost heading for the exit door in her second round match with Anett Kontaveit. Nonetheless, Muguruza played some scintillating tennis to continue her title defence in Paris.

Muguruza survives in the first set

The defending French Open champion got off to a good start by breaking the diminutive Kazakh's serve. However, Muguruza was unable to consolidate the break as Putintseva levelled the match at 1-1, breaking back immediately. The 27th seed took the lead in the match for the first time by holding her serve, and she extended her lead by breaking Muguruza once again as the Spaniard continued to commit backhand unforced errors.

Furthermore, the fourth seed improved her tennis in the next game as she found a backhand winner down the line to break back. The Spaniard was able to break back immediately as she stepped into the court with a backhand, forcing the error from Putintseva. Muguruza's level went up dramatically as she held serve for the first time in the match with a service hold to love to level the match at 3-3.

Moreover, Putintseva continued to struggle as her backhand continued to break down as Muguruza regained her break advantage to lead 4-3. The Spaniard continued to remain aggressive and she had a commanding position by leading 5-3 with another service hold to love.

Putintseva was unable to deal with Muguruza in the second set (Photo by Lionel Bonaventure / Getty)
Putintseva was unable to deal with Muguruza in the second set (Photo by Lionel Bonaventure / Getty)

However, Putintseva ensured that the opening set continued to go on longer as she held to love to see if she would be able to break Muguruza's serve again as the Spaniard was serving for the opening set. The 22-year-old raced out to a 0-30 lead on the defending champion's serve, and she gained her first break point by virtue of Muguruza's forehand breaking down into the net. Nonetheless, a forehand winner down the line coupled with a failure to take advantage of Muguruza's second serve, allowed the former world number two to save two break points.

Nonetheless, the 27th seed continued to use her drop shot to gain a third break point which was saved, however, a fourth one quickly followed with Muguruza missing a sitter of a backhand into the net. Putintseva broke back with Muguruza's forehand sailing into the net to restore parity at 5-5.

However, the defending champion broke Putintseva's serve with a backhand winner down the line to serve for the second set, once again. Muguruza's footwork and serve improved, and she forced the error from Putintseva to claim the opening set 7-5 in 52 minutes.

The defending champion cruises into the second week once more

The alarm bells were quickly ringing for last year's French Open quarterfinalist, who almost beat Serena Williams. The Kazakh was broken in her opening service game in the second set, and despite applying some pressure on Muguruza, in the second game, the Spaniard consolidated the break to lead 2-0. The fourth seed continued to remain aggressive by stepping into the court a lot more, and she gained a double break with a devastating forehand winner, landing in the corner of the court to lead 3-0.

On the other hand, the 27th seed didn't give up as she found some sweet forehand winners at 15-40 to gain a couple of break points. Muguruza continued to step into the court, to force an error from Putintseva, and the Russian-born Kazakh failed to take one of the break points with a poor attempt of a drop shot. Nevertheless, Putintseva took a third break point chance with Muguruza committing forehand unforced errors.

The reigning champion has shown qualities to retain her title (Photo by Lionel Bonaventure / Getty)
The reigning champion has shown qualities to retain her title (Photo by Lionel Bonaventure / Getty)

The Kazakh reduced the deficit from 3-0 to 3-2 with a hold to love. Moreover, the sixth game of the match was important but Muguruza continued to remain aggressive, and calm by extending her lead to 4-2. It was important for Putintseva to hold serve in her next service game, she raced out to a 30-0 lead. However, Muguruza amped up the pressure with a backhand winner down the line, and she retrieved the drop shot with a forehand winner down the line. The Spaniard also produced another forehand winner down the line. She took her first break point chance with a strong return, forcing the error from Putintseva to lead 5-2.

The defending champion served beautifully in her final set, sealing the match with an ace down to the T to lead 7-5, 6-2 in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Muguruza will be competing in the fourth round of the French Open for the fourth successive year against last year's quarterfinalist Shelby Rogers or 13th seed Kristina Mladenovic.

By the numbers

The Spaniard was strong in the serving department by dishing out two aces in her final service game of the match. The 23-year-old got 66 percent of her first serves in and won 73 percent of the points on it. Whereas, Putintseva got 64 percent of her first serves in and won 49 percent of the points on it. The French Open champion produced 26 winners, in contrast to Putintseva's 14. Muguruza committed 26 unforced errors, whilst Putintseva committed 21.

Tennis