No. 3 Garbiñe Muguruza and opponent Anastasija Sevastova, who both have struggled in their own way to claim any regular comfort on the big court and in the big moment, a nervy, often erratic second-round match from both sides resulted in a Sevastova upset, 7-5, 6-4. It was the first time Sevastova, a 26-year-old from Latvia, had beaten a Top 5 player.
And, in the end, she did it on the big stage.
Up 5-1 in the second set, Sevastova lost three match points before finally claiming the victory after failing to serve out the match twice.
“Everything I have to solve – my head, myself, what could be, what could not be,” she said after the match on the difficulty of closing out Muguruza. “But I’m so happy it went well.”
In the first set, Muguruza’s talent was on display early, with the hard-hitting baseliner driving Sevastova back, the Latvian unable to deal with her opponent’s pace. But the two traded breaks, and Sevastova took advantage of Muguruza’s nerves as she failed to close out game points.
In the second, it was the lesser-ranked player who appeared more comfortable in the moment, quickly rattling off three games and then taking a 5-1 lead. Muguruza saved three match points and broke Sevotsova twice, before an error and a big shot from Sevotsova gave her the match, as Muguruza failed to hold at 5-4.
WHAT IT MEANS: Muguruza had plenty going for her coming into Wednesday’s match: she’s one of the few to bridge the gulf between the rest of the tour and world No. 1 Serena Williams in a big match – this year for her first Grand Slam title at the French Open. The Spaniard also gave Williams a run for her money in the Wimbledon final last year. But her results have been inconsistent on hard courts, with a loss in the first round of Indian Wells to No. 62 Christina McHale. Meanwhile, Sevastova had good runs in 2010 and 2011, including wins over Top 10 players in 2010 and a main-draw berth at the US Open in 2011.
Sevotsova took time away from the game in 2013 and hopes to return to form.
THE QUESTION: Can Muguruza consisently challenge for Grand Slam titles?