In an intriguing first round clash of the Wimbledon Championships, it would be a battle between two hard hitters as the 14th seed and 2015 finalist Garbine Muguruza faces a tough and unheralded opponent in Ekaterina Alexandrova as her opening test.
Just a year ago, Alexandrova made her debut appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and managed to make a name for herself when she upset former world number one Ana Ivanovic in the first round. This year, she aims to create yet another huge upset in the first round as the 14th seed Muguruza looms ahead.
Two years ago, Muguruza was exposed to the limelight when she walked out onto Centre Court for her Championship match against Serena Williams. Despite taking an early lead and providing a tough fight, the Spaniard fell in straight sets in her first ever Grand Slam final. However, she unexpectedly lost in the second round last year, failing to defend her 1300 points earned in 2015. This year, she would be back hungrier than ever, especially after falling out of the Top 10 as a result of not defending her title in Paris a month ago.
Alexandrova’s 2017 grass court results
Ekaterina Alexandrova has opted for a light grass court schedule this year and has only participated in one event in the lead-up to Wimbledon. Signing up for the ITF 100K tournament held in Southsea, where it abnormally had a draw consisting of just 16 players, she managed to be the fourth seed amongst the tough field where 75 percent of the players were all ranked in the Top 100. Defeating Laura Robson and Julia Boserup, the Russian eventually fell in three sets to the eventual finalist Irina-Camelia Begu, who also happened to be the top seed in the tournament.
Muguruza’s 2017 grass court results
Garbine Muguruza made a surprise decision to skip her home tournament held in Mallorca and instead play at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham during the same week. Her decision proved to be the right choice as she played three good matches to reach just her third semifinal of the year. Despite playing some good tennis, she put up a good fight before falling to the unheralded Ashleigh Barty in three sets and thus she just narrowly missed a place in her first final this year. Moving on to the Aegon International, Muguruza put in what could be her worst performance of the year as she was just outclassed by an in-form Barbora Strycova in straight sets, and only managing to win just one single game.
On paper, Garbine Muguruza seems like the huge favourite to prevail in this clash. Having more weapons amongst the both of them, the Spaniard should be able to get the victory without facing any huge problems. Nevertheless, Alexandrova will still aim to provide a tough fight till the last point is played.
On a fast surface like grass, Muguruza has earned impressive results in the past as seen in her previous achievements at Wimbledon. Her huge serves would be able to earn some free points during matches, overpowering her opponents and using power to outhit them. Muguruza aims to dictate play against the hard-hitting Alexandrova, preventing the Russian from playing her normal explosive game. Her flat, powerful groundstrokes on both wings will definitely move Alexandrova all around the court, but the underdog also aims to dictate play in the match. Mixing in drop shots and slices during rallies would definitely be beneficial for the Spaniard, as they can catch Alexandrova off-guard at times.
Similar to Muguruza, Alexandrova also aims to dictate play as she cannot afford to be on the defense against a fellow hard-hitter. As seen previously in her career breakthrough matches like her upset against Ivanovic last year, Alexandrova possesses a very strong serve and it is capable of producing some aces and service winners. It would be crucial in trying to hold her service games in the match as Muguruza could find troubles returning the strong serve. Just like how she played in her spirited loss to Karolina Pliskova in Paris a month ago, Alexandrova looks to use her powerful groundstrokes to move the Spaniard around the court. However, consistency could pose a problem for the Russian.
Match Prediction:  Garbine Muguruza d. Ekaterina Alexandrova in three sets