Garbiñe Muguruza is in blistering form as she lines up to face World No 1 Ash Barty in the final of the Yarra Valley Classic on Sunday.
It's always good to play the top players, especially the No.1 right now. We've had tough matches, so I'm expecting another battle. Garbiñe Muguruza
The Spaniard simply crushed No 8 seed Marketa Vondrousova for the loss of just one game on Saturday, adding it to the 9 she has lost all week in a near-perfect display against the 2019 French Open finalist from the Czech Republic.
She has played 8 sets so far: 6-2 6-0 6-1 6-2 6-2 6-2 6-1.
”I’m very happy for sure. I think I played well today,” Muguruza said on-court after the match. “My serve was working in the right moments and I felt like, since the beginning of the match, I could take control of the points.”
Behind 19 winners and just 10 unforced errors, the former World No 1 recorded her win in under an hour for the third time in her victories this week.
Creating 11 break points over the course of the contest, the Spaniard broke serve 5 times, while Vondrousova tallied 22 unforced errors as she was routinely forced out of her comfort zone to try to match Muguruza’s fierce groundstroke game.
She has shown the form that put her top of the rankings in 2017, dropping just 10 games in four matches so far including her quarter-final thrashing of America’s Sofia Kenin, her conqueror in last year’s Australian Open final.
She will next play Barty, who reached the decider with a walkover after Serena Williams pulled out due to a right shoulder injury.
Muguruza has faced Barty 3 times previously, with the Aussie holding a 2-1 edge.
All 3 matches have gone the distance, with Barty’s 6-1 6-7(4) 6-2 win in the quarter-finals of last February’s Qatar Total Open marking her last tour-level victory prior to returning to competition this week.
“It’s always good to play the top players, especially the No.1 right now,” Muguruza said. “We’ve had tough matches, so I’m expecting another battle.”
Muguruza, the 2020 Australian Open finalist, is bidding for her first WTA singles title since winning in Monterrey, Mexico in the spring of 2019, but her last title at WTA 500 level or higher came 4 years ago at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Barty will be playing for her second WTA title on home soil, her first in 11 months, having won 3 matches this week before her semi-final opponent, Serena Williams, withdrew citing a shoulder injury, giving the Aussie a walkover into the final.
The Aussie presents unique challenges for her rivals, a master of disguise with a variety of spin, placement and direction of her shots as well as a deft touch so Muguruza will have to be at her athletic best to combat Barty’s unique skills.
She is a bit of a throw-back with her shot variety, net ability and sliced backhand, a style that is very different from any other woman currently on the WTA Tour.
Most current players, including Muguruza, prefer to rally from the back of the court using their power, which is less risky than Barty’s use of the full court, moving into the net and volleying.
“You don’t know how she is going to play every shot,” observed Czech World No 9 Petra Kvitova, one of Barty’s fiercest rivals. “Is it the topspin? Is it the slice? Is it the drop shot? She can play everything.
“That’s the challenge of her game. Not many players can do that, that’s why she is special.”
The clash of their respective styles will guarantee the Barty v Muguruza final will be an interesting watch and the match can be viewed live on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.
The Yarra Valley Classic is one of 3 women’s tournaments, along with 3 men’s events, at Melbourne Park this week as players, after emerging from quarantine, tune up for the Australian Open Grand Slam which starts on Monday.