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Garbine Muguruza vs Daria Gavrilova WTA Rome tennis live: Muguruza needs to find form fast at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 15 May 2018
  • Third seed Garbine Muguruza takes on Daria Gavrilova in the second round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Wednesday
  • Muguruza vs Gavrilova Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis is live from Rome on Wednesday at 9pm local/8pm BST
Garbine Muguruza (TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

Garbine Muguruza continues her search for form as she opens her Internazionali BNL d’Italia campaign against dangerous Daria Gavrilova on Wednesday.



Former Internazionali BNL d’Italia semifinalists face off on Wednesday as third seed Garbine Muguruza takes on Daria Gavrilova for a place in the third round at the Foro Italico.

For the past two years, Muguruza has made the semifinals at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and it’s proven a springboard into a very fruitful French Open-Wimbledon swing: In 2016, she made the semifinals, losing to Madison Keys, and went on to win her maiden title at the French Open; in 2017, she made the final four before retiring against Elina Svitolina, and went on to reach the round of 16 at Roland Garros and win her first Wimbledon crown. (Quirkily enough, she’s beaten Jelena Ostapenko in Rome for the last two years, and now her fellow French Open champion is also her projected quarterfinal opponent this year). 

Given that she usually struggles with the pressure of playing at home in Madrid, Rome – with its heavier and more conventional clay conditions – usually seems to release Muguruza a bit and let her find her game. And once more in 2018, she’s in a position where she needs to do just that ahead of what is traditionally the strongest part of her season. There’s no denying that 2018 so far has been underwhelming from the Spanish player; she fell very early at the Australian Open, losing in the second round to Su-Wei Hsieh, and made no impression at the three Premier Mandatories so far, losing to Sachia Vickery first match at Indian Wells, Sloane Stephens in the round of 16 in Miami and Daria Kasatkina in the same round at Madrid (her best ever result there). In all four defeats, she looked harried, uncertain of herself and her forehand was extremely underwhelming. 

Muguruza’s best results have been winning the International-level title on hard courts in Monterrey, and her Middle Eastern swing which saw her finish runner-up to Petra Kvitova in Doha and reach the semifinals in Dubai before losing to Kasatkina. Can she once more find some form in Rome?

Drawn into the same quarter as fellow French Open champions Ostapenko and Maria Sharapova, Muguruza doesn’t have the easiest opponent to start off against in the form of former Internazionali BNL d’Italia semifinalist Daria Gavrilova.


Daria – or ‘Dasha’ – Gavrilova is a Russian-born Australian who plays very well on both hard courts and clay, but had several of her key breakthroughs on the latter surface. Ranked as high as world no. 20 in August of last year after winning the Premier-level New Haven Open, where she beat Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova, Gavrilova’s first breakthrough into the top 100 came in 2015 when she inflicted a shock defeat on Maria Sharapova on her way to the round of 16 in Miami as a wildcard – followed by a brilliant run in Rome, where Gavrilova qualified for the main draw before beating Belinda Bencic, Ana Ivanovic, Timea Bacsinszky and Christina McHale before losing to Sharapova.

A quarterfinalist in Madrid in 2016, Gavrilova made the round of 16 in Rome that year with a win over Simona Halep on the way and in 2017, qualified for the tournament again before beating Madison Keys, Caroline Garcia and Svetlana Kuznetsova on her way to the quarterfinals. That’s two former French Open champions (Ivanovic and Kuznetsova) as well as two-time runner-up Halep who have fallen victim to Gavrilova in Rome – an ominous sign for Muguruza.

It hasn’t, however, been a bright season so far for Gavrilova. It started well enough with a semifinal run at the Apia International Sydney, where the Australian was actually supposed to play Muguruza but the Spaniard pulled out due to injury. But Gavrilova was ousted by in-form Elise Mertens in the second round of the Australian Open, lost both her Fed Cup matches to significantly lower-ranked players – the world no. 185-ranked Marta Kostyuk, and the unranked Nadya Kichenok – in Australia’s tie against the Ukraine, and with the exception of a semifinal run in Acapulco, hasn’t won back-to-back matches since, suffering early defeats to seeds Caroline Garcia and Elina Svitolina at Indian Wells and Miami and to Camila Giorgi in the first round of Charleston.
Injury caused Gavrilova to retire in the third set of her first-round Prague Open match against Sam Stosur and she got just four games against Caroline Wozniacki in Madrid – but the Australian might just have started to turn things around after recording a stellar win against the very dangerous Natalia Vikhlyantseva in Rome, beating her 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

This could be a big match for both Gavrilova and Muguruza with both players looking for form ahead of Roland Garros – but with the expectations so much higher for the Spanish player, the stakes are that much higher too. Muguruza has the power and the skills to run Gavrilova from side to side and eventually hit through her defense, but she will have to be very patient and disciplined to do so – and she will also have to stop making the kind of hideous unforced errors moving forward, especially where drive and swing volleys are concerned, that have been a real feature of her recent matches, because Gavrilova will throw up a lot of high balls and defensive lobs to test her. You don’t bet against a French Open champion with a good record in Rome – but this is a tricky test for Muguruza. Winning it could stand her in great stead for Roland Garros, but losing it is a very real possibility.

Muguruza vs Gavrilova Internazionali BNL d’Italia tennis is live from Rome on Wednesday at 9pm local/8pm BST


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Garbine Muguruza vs Daria Gavrilova WTA Rome tennis live: Muguruza needs to find form fast at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Daria Gavrilova has beaten multiple French Open champions at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia – will Garbine Muguruza be her latest victim? WTA Rome tennis live from Rome

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