Birmingham | Strycova bounces Muguruza
Barbora Strycova pulled off one of the biggest upsets of this year’s Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham by beating top seed Garbiñe Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champion, 6-2 6-4 for a place in the quarter finals.
Her win keeps her on track to at least emulate her runs of 2014 and 2016 when she made the finals. This year she hopes to go one better.
Well, I like this tournament. I like to come here. I like the people, the surroundings. It feels like, not home, but it feels very nice to be here Barbora Strycova
“Well, I like this tournament. I like to come here. I like the people, the surroundings. It feels like, not home, but it feels very nice to be here,” said Strycova after her win. “And even I was a long time in Paris (at Roland Garros), so I was, like, not sure if I can come here. I wasn’t feeling well. But then I came and it feels everything nice. I enjoy playing on grass here.”
Strycova faces Heather Watson’s conqueror Lesia Tsurenko in Friday’s last-eight line up, after the Ukrainian qualifier continued her winning ways by knocking out 6th seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia.
Defending champion Petra Kvitova is bidding to be the first woman since Maria Sharapova to defend the title at the Edgbaston Priory Club and, judging by how mercilessly she dismissed Daria Gavrilova 6-2 6-2, she remains a huge threat to the rest of the field.
Kvitova has a potentially tricky quarter-final in prospect against the fifth-seeded Julia Goerges after the German ended Ashleigh Barty’s winning run on grass 7-6(6) 6-3 after 95-minutes, a run which included winning in Nottingham last week.
Fourth seed Kvitova broke early in the first set and hit some powerful backhands and strong returns to wrap up the contest in 78-minutes.
“I think a few of the games were very tight, especially when you need to break. It’s always tough to get the break on the grass,” Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champion, said.
“I think there’s still a few things I can improve — the serve, probably. You need to serve well on the grass.
“The conditions were pretty tough today with the wind.”
Goerges, following her victory over Barty, commented: “I don’t know how many set points she had, but I think it was very important for me to win that first set somehow,
“I think she started to think about not taking her chances and I got a little bit of extra air.
“My serve was a very big key today and it helped me a lot in the big moments. Until last year, I didn’t win a grass court match in five years, so maybe I’ve changed my opinion about grass now.”
Second seed Elina Svitolina will face Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu for a place in the semi-finals, the Romanian having defeated Timea Babos 4-6 6-3 6-2.