Defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza overcame the variety of the No.27 seed Yulia Putintseva 7-5, 6-2 to move into the second week of the French Open for the fourth time today.
The diminutive Kazakh is known for her spirited challenges to top players – in last year’s quarterfinals, for instance, she was five points from a win over none other than Serena Williams. Even when the flow of a match seems to be going against her, Putintseva is rarely put off – as she demonstrated in the first set in which the momentum swung back and forth.
Muguruza was out of the blocks quicker, breaking immediately, but her 22-year-old opponent scrambled brilliantly – at one point scurrying from one edge of the court to the other to retrieve the Spaniard’s volleys, eventually nailing the pass – to strike back for a 3-1 lead.
But the No.4 seed has grit of her own; tightening up her footwork and renewing the ferocity of her groundstrokes, she powered through 14 consecutive points to take her to the brink of the set. Once again, Putintseva was undeterred, varying the height and depth of her strokes to goad Muguruza into errors and tie the set at 5-5.
The Kazakh, though, was beset by rather more uncharacteristic errors of her own, particularly on the forehand side – and it was this wing that let her down as she tried to build on her comeback. The defending champion made no mistake in serving the set out at the second time of asking.