Muguruza Moves Past Flipkens, Debutante Day Awaits In Indian Wells
Published March 10, 2017 12:15
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Reigning French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza came through a tense finish against Kirsten Flipkens, 6-2, 6-3, in her opening round match at the BNP Paribas Open. Up next for the No.7 seed is 17-year-old Kayla Day, who stunned Australian Open semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in three sets.
"I think it was a difficult match," she said during her post-match press conference. "I think she's very talented and she can hit some critical shots and she can be tricky. I'm happy because it was not a first, easy match, like a first round. I don't know. It was a big win for me, actually."
Muguruza had split her first four meetings with the 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist, losing both of their meetings on grass. But hardcourts have proved more fertile ground for the Spaniard, who won her third straight match against her rival on concrete after 90 minutes on court.
"I think grass is a very tricky surface; you never know what's gonna happen," the 2015 Wimbledon runner-up said during her on-court interview. "I just played my game; sometimes she plays better, sometimes I do - that's what tennis is! - but I played better today."
Racing out to a set and 5-0 lead, things got more complicated from there as Flipkens forced her way into the second set. Ultimately, Muguruza broke through for the sixth and final time in the match, striking 24 winners to 28 unforced errors, and came to the net an impressive 33 times - winning 21 of those points.
"It's always difficult to close out your first match. She's a very talented player, unbelievable, with a very different game. I got nervous!"
Muguruza is making her fifth appearance in Indian Wells, and hopes to make the quarterfinals; her previous result came on her 2013 debut, when she reached the fourth round as a qualifier.
"I never know my expectations for the tournament. I believe every time I play the tournament I see myself holding a trophy, for sure. I want to believe I'm one of these women that can win the tournament.
"After that, I could lose in third round. I just want to go out there, my next match, and try to play well, try to do my game."
Standing between her and a second round of 16 run is Day, the American teenager who survived No.32 seed Lucic-Baroni, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.
"This means a lot to me," Day told press. "I was really grateful to get offered this wildcard into the tournament, and it really means a lot that I can be able to see that I can play with some of the best players in the world."
Lucic-Baroni retired from her last tournament due to a GI illness, but nonetheless served for the match in the final set.
"It was a really close match throughout the entire match. I think I started to really believe I could win at 6-5 in the third. It was still a really tough game, because I was a little bit tight to close it out. But my serve had been giving her a lot of problems, so I knew if I stuck to my game it might work out."
Day turned heads last summer when she took home her first Grand Slam title at the US Open girl's singles event, and withstood the Croat's firepower to win the final four games of the match and book a meeting with Muguruza.
"She's such a great player. I'm really excited to go out there and play her, one of the greatest in the game right now, so it should be really fun and a great experience for me."