PARIS, France - Former champion Garbiñe Muguruza took down Czech lefty Kristyna Pliskova in straight sets to make her way back into the third round at Roland Garros.
In her Parisian opener, No.11 seed Muguruza needed more than three hours to survive Tamara Zidansek in an epic three-setter, 7-5, 4-6, 8-6. She kept things more straightforward in the second round, firing 21 winners and breaking the lefty’s serve four times en route to a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
“Happy because she is actually the first lefty I played the entire year, and it's always tricky,” Mugurua told press afterward. “Also the fact that she has a big serve and it's hard to break her. I had to stay very focused to keep my game smart and to stay solid on my serve as well, yeah, and find a way.
“I was happy with my shots and how I felt and certainly was a shorter match than the first one.”
In her first match of the year against a lefty player, Muguruza bounced back emphatically after going down an early break to trail the big-serving Pliskova 1-2. The Spaniard broke straight back, keeping the pressure on Pliskova as she attacked from the baseline. Muguruza reeled off the next three games in a row to put herself in front, 5-2 and comfortably served out the opening set.
Pliskova mounted a titanic effort in the second set as Muguruza created three more break opportunities in the Czech’s marathon first two service games. Pliskova held firm to keep them level at 2-2, but Muguruza was undeterred as she regularly rushed forward to shut down points at the net.
The Spaniard was finally rewarded with back-to-back breaks of serve as she reeled off the last five games of the set, firing a lob winner over the six-foot tall Pliskova to seal the victory.
Her win today marks Muguruza’s 23rd match victory of the abridged 2020 season - equalling her entire 2019 count despite playing five fewer months of tennis.
“I think my game has improved,” Muguruza reflected on her 2020 progress. “I feel like my tennis was there and it's here. I feel like I am better mentally prepared. I think I did a good job trying to put things together, solve some stuff, see more clearly some other things, just in general a little bit more in perspective.
“But I think that also combined with the hard work. So it was a big change finishing in 2019, and starting in 2020 I just felt, okay, that year's going to be different and, yeah, I feel different on the court.
“I don't think I'm a different player, but I feel like harder, I feel stronger out there.
The Spaniard moves on to face Collins in the next round, the pair’s second career clash after Muguruza defeated Collins last year in a tough three sets in Rome. The American eased past teenager Clara Tauson 6-3, 6-2 earlier in the day to advance.
"We played already in clay actually last year,” Muguruza recalled. “Very aggressive player. Yeah, it's going to be matching my aggressiveness with her aggressive game and trying to dominate.
“I think it's going to be another tough round and I have one day now to get prepared for that one.”