MADRID, Spain -- No.3 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain got off to a flying start at the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday, dispatching Peng Shuai of China, 6-4, 6-2, to move into the second round in her nation's capital.
The reigning Wimbledon champion and former World No.1 improved her head-to-head record against Peng to 2-0, as she emerged victorious in one hour and 39 minutes to win her opening-round match in Madrid for the fourth time in five years.
The Spanish star had 24 winners, including five aces, and broke Peng four times in the match. Peng pushed Muguruza into a challenging opening set that lasted just shy of an hour, but the former World No.14 from China ended up with 20 unforced errors in the match, negating her 16 winners.
"I felt like the first set, it was really even," Muguruza said, during her post-match press conference. "I was leading, but I felt like if I miss [a] few shots, it can turn easily around. I think Peng was playing really solid tennis today."
Muguruza is still looking for her first appearance beyond the second round in Madrid, though. She has her next chance to make that happen when she will take on Donna Vekic of Croatia later in the week. Vekic defeated Spaniard Georgina García Pérez, 6-2, 6-4, on Sunday.
"I'm taking a lot less expectation, you know, this time," Muguruza continued. "I think every year I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well here, so I want to change that, just go out there and use the crowd, you know, I mean, I'm in Madrid. I love to be here, in a positive way, not in a pressure way."
Muguruza started the match exceptionally well, perpetually pressuring the Chinese player's serve. Peng was forced to save a break point in the lengthy opening game of the match, and continued to struggle on her delivery in the early part of the first set. Muguruza claimed breaks in the Chinese player’s next two service games en route to a 4-1, double-break lead.
Peng grasped one break back in the following game after Muguruza hit a backhand error while down break point, but the Spanish star steeled herself, and had no trouble in her next service game, holding for 5-3 with a second service ace on game point.
In that game, Muguruza claimed her first set point on Peng’s serve by forcing an error with a beautiful backhand, but Peng staved it off when a solid serve set up a backhand winner, and the unseeded player held, forcing Muguruza to serve for the set.
Muguruza then had to fight through her service game at 5-4, as Peng reached break point with a lovely forehand volley for a winner. A Muguruza overhead erased that break point, and after that, a backhand volley gave Muguruza a second set point.
However, strong returns by Peng let her reel off two points in a row, giving her another break point. Muguruza recovered, though, getting back to deuce with a backhand winner, and closing out the opening set two points later.
After fighting through the 58-minute opening frame, Muguruza firmly held onto the momentum in front of an excited crowd. The Spaniard again raced to a double-break advantage, hitting two consecutive outlandish crosscourt groundstrokes to close out the fifth game of the set for a 4-1 lead.
Another backhand crosscourt winner by Muguruza sealed a service hold for 5-1, and although Peng easily held to pull to 5-2, the No.3 seed quickly reached triple match point in the following game. On the second match point, a powerful Muguruza serve was returned wide by Peng, sealing victory for the Spanish No.1.