STRASBOURG, France - No.4 seed Carla Suárez Navarro showcased some vintage form in dispatching Christina McHale 6-4, 6-1 in the second round of the Internationaux de Strasbourg.
Seven of Suárez Navarro’s ten WTA Tour finals have come on clay - but, following a right shoulder injury that disrupted the start to her 2017 season, she hasn’t racked up as many matches heading into Roland Garros as she would ordinarily expect, with just six wins and three losses on her clay-court record.
The initial stages of the contest were tight, with seven of the opening set’s ten games going to at least 30. Though both players displayed superb, aggressive point construction, it was Suárez Navarro who was more successful at crucial moments, scything up the court with her gorgeous one-handed backhand. McHale, by contrast, hit her loosest errors on big points.
The American World No.60 had snapped a five-match losing streak with her first-round win over Andrea Petkovic, but as the second set progressed was unable to counter the Spaniard’s growing confidence. Taking the ball earlier and finding even more angles and finesse, Suárez Navarro began taking her own chances more efficiently as she accelerated towards the finish line.
By the end of the match, McHale was being forced almost exclusively into defensive play by the free-flowing versatility of the Suárez Navarro groundstrokes. The Spaniard finished the match with a brilliant forehand flourish to move into just her third quarterfinal of the year, where she will face either No.6 seed Samantha Stosur or qualifier Madison Brengle.