A heavy-hitting clash between Garbiñe Muguruza and CoCo Vandeweghe will be on Tuesday’s schedule with a first ever Australian Open semi-final appearance up for grabs for the winner.
Vandeweghe scored the biggest win of her career on Sunday evening, comfortably seeing off the world number one, Angelique Kerber, 6-2 6-3. It was a lacklustre display from the German player who has struggled for rhythm so far in 2017. Kerber couldn’t find the depth on her groundstrokes as Vandeweghe rolled through the last four games of the first set and the last five games of the second set; in the latter, the American recovered from an early break down and played a terrific return game at 4-3.
To be honest, i’ve seen Vandeweghe play better than this – she had the brief detour at the start of the second set and the serve was good, not great with just 51% first serves in. Vandeweghe was put under little pressure from Kerber and it was more than enough to seal a safe passage into the quarters. Vandeweghe performed strongly in her singles matches at the Hopman Cup and has had an excellent week in Melbourne, also defeating the likes of Roberta Vinci and Eugenie Bouchard.
Muguruza is yet to drop a set in Melbourne as she enjoyed her most straightforward win of the tournament so far, a 6-2 6-3 victory over Sorana Cirstea in 65 minutes. Muguruza’s groundstrokes were continually well placed as she effectively moved Cirstea from side-to-side and she was rock solid from the baseline, committing just nine unforced errors.
Muguruza also played the big points well as she saved the three break points that she faced on serve. Muguruza looked relaxed in her press conference and she seems to be enjoying her tennis again after a relatively rocky six months after winning her first Slam at Roland Garros last year.
Head-to-head record: Vandeweghe leads the head-to-head, 2-1 with both her wins coming on the grass in 2014 at ‘s-Hertogenbosch (7-6(3) 6-1) and Wimbledon (6-3 3-6 7-5). I watched the latter of those matches live where Vandeweghe needed about 11 or 12 match points to win. In their most recent clash, Muguruza defeated Vandeweghe in straight sets at Cincinnati, 7-6(4) 6-2.
Interesting stat: In the last year, Vandeweghe has won five of her last six matches against top ten opposition (Bencic, Suárez Navarro, Radwanska, Vinci & Kerber). The only top ten loss was against none other than Muguruza in Cincy last year.
Final thoughts: Vandeweghe is obviously building bundles of confidence in match play and as she said in her post-match interview, she’s gunning for her target of a Slam semi-final in 2017. This will likely be Muguruza’s most testing match of the tournament but I like how the Spaniard is competing right now. She’s playing the big points well and her serve and groundstrokes have both been reliable. While Vandeweghe’s peak form probably tops Muguruza’s, I think that the American is still prone to a mid-match wander. While she had time to recover against Kerber from a blip at the start of the second set, i’m not sure she’ll be afforded the same opportunity against an in-form Muguruza.