In a now Halep and Sharapova-less Brisbane draw, Garbiñe Muguruza is the highest seed remaining. She will play her first match of the 2016 season on Wednesday against Varvara Lepchenko. Muguruza looked calm and in high spirits in press (see video below). I could listen to Garbiñe talk for hours… she’s enchanting! I like the excited face she pulls at the possibility of playing with Nadal in the mixed doubles at the Rio Olympics later this year. Lepchenko won her first match of the year, which was also the first completed main draw match of the 2016 WTA season. Lepchenko convincingly defeated the higher ranked, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, 6-2 6-1. It was a wild and tactically confused performance from Schmiedlova as Lepchenko once again performed well in Brisbane; the American player reached the semi-finals last year.
Head-to-head record: In their only previous match at Wimbledon in 2015, Muguruza’s route to the final began with a first round win over Lepchenko, 6-4 6-1.
Analysis: Lepchenko has the advantage of already playing a match, while there are bound to be some nerves for Muguruza. Lepchenko had some of her best results in 2015 (despite some season-derailing injuries) and has shown signs of improving her concentration and focus which often did tail off. This won’t be an easy match for the Spaniard and i’d fancy Lepchenko to win at least a set. Mugs to prevail in the end…
Prediction: Muguruza d. Lepchenko in 3 sets