BRONX, NY, USA -- In her first match since reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals, No.10 seed Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic moved past Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova, 7-5, 6-2, to advance to the second round of the NYJTL Bronx Open on Monday.
In the first tour-level meeting between two young players who have quickly risen up the WTA rankings over the past 18 months, it was 22-year-old Muchova who had a stellar day on serve to overcome 21-year-old Kuzmova after an hour and nine minutes of play.
World No.47 Muchova never faced a break point in the match, and won a staggering 27 of her 29 first-service points (93 percent) during the encounter with World No.54 Kuzmova. Kuzmova acquitted herself well in a closely-contested opening set but was overwhelmed by Muchova’s consistency at the end, dropping serve twice in the second set.
Muchova, who reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in her Wimbledon debut last month and also notched a maiden WTA singles final at Prague earlier this season, sets up a second-round match with American wildcard Kristie Ahn, who defeated Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann, 6-3, 6-4, earlier on Monday.
Both players were firing on all cylinders for the majority of the opening set, with excellent serving all around through 5-5, with neither player facing a break point in the first ten games. Muchova in particular was pristine, dropping just two points in her first five service games, though Kuzmova was using her sturdy groundstrokes to finish off points when she needed to.
Muchova, though, put the pressure on Kuzmova with another routine hold for 6-5. The Czech then won the first two points of the next game with great groundstrokes, and suddenly attained triple set point after a wide Kuzmova forehand. Kuzmova used big serves to erase two chances, but Muchova used a powerful backhand service return on the third to force an error and earn the set.
Muchova won 100 percent of points when she got her first serve into play in the opening set, and continued her momentum in the second set. The Czech blasted an overhead winner to hold for 3-2, and then cracked the set open with a break at love for a 4-2 lead, punctuated by a double fault from Kuzmova.
The No.10 seed had no trouble holding for 5-2, then quickly zoomed to match point in the following game. Kuzmova pulled out strong serves to fend off three match points, but a netted backhand error by the Slovak gave Muchova a fourth opportunity. On that chance, Kuzmova fired a forehand long, ceding a fourth straight game, and the win, to Muchova.
More to follow....