HOBART, Australia -- Former champion Garbiñe Muguruza had a winning start to her 2020 Hobart International campaign, as the No.2-seeded Spaniard ousted Wang Yafan of China, 6-1, 7-5, in their opening-round match.
In the first meeting between the two players, former World No.1 Muguruza eased through the first set, then survived a late second-set fightback by World No.51 Wang, as she claimed victory after one hour and 35 minutes of play.
"I was expecting a tough match, I know Yafan plays very well," said Muguruza, after her win. "I was expecting she was going to bring it in the second set and be better, and that’s what happened, but I was ready to face it."
"Of course, I always want to win 6-1, 6-1," Muguruza continued, "but that never happens, it’s very rare."
Two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza romped to her first-ever WTA singles title at the Hobart International in 2014, and in her first appearance at the event since then, the Spanish star converted seven of her 11 break points and won nearly 60 percent of points on the Wang first serve to book a spot in the second round.
World No.34 Muguruza will now meet Ons Jabeur in the second round, after the Tunisian qualifier dispatched Anna Blinkova of Russia in straight sets in her opening match.
"I’ll keep playing my game, keep being patient," said Muguruza. "There’s no big secret, I just want to keep working and hopefully I can just keep on playing, and keep on playing!"
The powerful hitting by Muguruza began at the outset, as a multitude of fearsome forehands in the opening game brought the Spaniard to triple break point. Wang quickly gave away the game with a double fault, and although the Chinese player held a break point in the very next game, Muguruza swatted it away with another forehand winner en route to a 2-0 lead.
As the set progressed, Wang tried to moved Muguruza around the court more often, but it was to no avail as the Muguruza groundstroke game was on point. The Spaniard converted another break point with a scintillating backhand winner to go up 4-1, then held with ease to consolidate the break and put herself one game away from claiming the opening frame.
Serving to stay in the set at 5-1, Wang fired three unforced errors in a row to cede another break to Muguruza, giving the former Hobart champion the one-set lead. Muguruza won 80 percent of points on the Wang serve in the first set, and converted all three of her break points in that timeframe.
Wang got off to a much better start in the second set, breaking Muguruza for the first time during the tilt in the opening game. However, an error-forcing backhand on break point in the following game put the Spaniard back on level footing, and she resumed service with her penetrating groundstrokes to build a 5-2 lead.
However, Wang was determined to stay in the match, and used increasingly pinpoint depth on her shots to reel off three straight games and pull back to 5-5. Muguruza, having failed to serve out the match at 5-3, was nevertheless able to stop the run of games by the Chinese player, finding two aces and two fierce forehands to wrap up an easy hold and put herself back in the lead at 6-5.
In the next game, Muguruza recovered her rocketing returns, blasting the Wang serve back with interest to garner two match points. On the first, a crosscourt return was again too much for Wang, as she netted the reply to give the victory to the two-time major champion.