Muguruza finds form
Originally published on 29/05/17 00:00
It has been a difficult year for Muguruza, but she was not inhibited on her return to Court Philippe Chatrier – the scene of her greatest triumph. Schiavone thrilled the Parisians with her flair and finesse, but the Spaniard simply had too much firepower.
The Italian, who won the title in 2010, is expected to pull the curtain down on her illustrious career later this year and Muguruza paid tribute to her opponent. She said: “I can’t believe that in the first round, we had two champions here. Not only that, I think Francesca is a legend and I was really excited to play on this court with her.”
Reflecting on her fine start, the 23-year-old added: “I think that’s my game. I like to go forward, I like to take my chances and be aggressive – and today was not going to be different. I am pretty happy that I managed to do it and win.”
Karolina Pliskova, who could become world No.1 depending on results in Paris, did not produce her best but was still able to open up her campaign with a 7-5 6-2 victory over Zheng Saisai.
“Every round is tough,” admitted Pliskova. “There are so many good players here that it doesn’t matter if I’m seeded No.2 or 20, I just try to play every match the best I can. Every match on clay is tough for me, so with every win I am happy.”
Kristina Mladenovic showed all her fighting qualities to overcome a back complaint and defeat Jennifer Brady 3-6 6-3 9-7. As the Frenchwoman meandered around the court in discomfort for the duration of the first set, it seemed certain that her opponent would take full advantage.
Roared on by an enthusiastic home-crowd, Mladenovic was able to hit back and eventually edge a nervy decider. The 24-year-old showed her resilience, but Brady will rue a missed opportunity to score the biggest win of her career.
"I don't want to complain, but I put my back out,” explained a relieved Mladenovic. “I wanted to give myself a chance to win the match and you were really behind me [crowd] right to the end. Compared to yesterday [my back] is better and I am going to do my best to recover. I will fight until the end."
Former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki had to be alert to defeat teenage wildcard entry Jamiee Fourlis 6-4 3-6 6-2. The Australian youngster showcased her talent in the second set with an avalanche of forehand winners, however, the Dane’s experience shone through in the end.
Francoise Abanda is celebrating her first Grand Sam win after a 6-3 6-4 success over Tessah Andrianjafitrimo. Sam Stosur and Kiki Bertens – who both won titles last week – are also safely through to the second round.
There was also that winning feeling for Sara Errani, Ana Konjuh, Catherine Bellis, Zhang Shuai and Elise Mertens – who managed to defeat the No.24 seed, Daria Gavrilova, 7-6(4) 1-6 6-4.