Garbiñe Muguruza withstood a spirited comeback from Samantha Stosur to triumph in a thrilling opening-round encounter at the Brisbane International on Monday.
WTA Staff

BRISBANE, Australia - Garbiñe Muguruza withstood a spirited comeback from Samantha Stosur to triumph in a thrilling opening-round encounter at the Brisbane International on Monday.

To the disappointment of a partisan crowd, the Brisbane-born Stosur was unable to prevent Muguruza winning, 7-5, 6-7(2), 7-5, in  just under three hours.

"When I saw I was playing Stosur in the first round, I said, 'Well, I have a tough match here,'" Muguruza said in her post-match press conference. "I think she played very well today; she served like a beast! I was not always at the maximum level, and I gave everything I had."

Historically Stosur has struggled to produce her best tennis in Brisbane, winning only four matches in her six appearances. And under the roof of the Pat Rafter Arena she was in trouble early on, falling behind 0-30 and facing a break point at 2-2 only to bail herself out with a couple of heavy-duty deliveries.

They stayed locked on serve until the very last game of the set, when Stosur took advantage of a lapse from Muguruza to bring up three set points. But the Spaniard refused to crack under pressure, crushing a deep backhand deep to reach the safety of deuce. A flurry of errors from Stosur in the next give Muguruza the opening she needed to take the set.

Targeting the Stosur backhand, Muguruza twice broke at the start of the second. Each time the hometown favorite hit right back, going on to level in a one-sided tie-break. She carried this momentum into the decider, yet despite forging 4-2 ahead, the ghosts of past appearances came back to haunt her as the No.4 seed produced the more authoritative - and assured - tennis to take a place in the second round.

"I suffered during the whole third set, because she got the break in the first game," Muguruza said. "I was very happy when I got back to break and I said, 'Okay, this is my chance here. And I don't want to let it go.'

"So I was just trying to put the ball inside the court and do whatever I could to keep the point going."

There she will face Daria Kasatkina. Should she come through that test, another Russian, No.5 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, is her likely quarterfinal foe. Kuznetsova enjoyed a more straightforward start to 2017, registering her 600th career win by easing past Louisa Chirico, 6-2, 6-4.

Also advancing was No.8 seed Roberta Vinci, after she dug deep to see off lucky loser Kateryna Bondarenko, 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 7-6(5).