Former world No. 1, Garbine Muguruza faces a tough start to her China Open campaign as she takes on rising American, Sofia Kenin in Beijing on Saturday.
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Muguruza is seeking just a second win in her last eight matches as she attempts to snap out of a poor run of form that has pushed her down to No. 26 in the world.
The 25-year-old has been very far from her best this season, stumbling to a 22-14 record heading into Beijing. Muguruza did claim a title in Monterrey earlier this year, but she has not made a semi-final outside that, with her only other quarter finals coming in Hua Hin and Indian Wells. She also made the fourth round oat the Australian Open and Roland Garros in her other notable results this season.
Prior to her victory over Shuai Peng at the Wuhan Open earlier in the week, Muguruza had been on a five-match losing streak, making consecutive opening round exits at Wimbledon, Cincinnati, US Open and Osaka, but she terminated that run with a 6-3 6-2 win over Peng. She was taken out by Elina Svitolina in the next round.
Muguruza can recall some great memories from Beijing as she attempts to regain some form- the Spaniard powered to the China Open title in 2015- but her record after that success has been ordinary, as she’s gone 3-3 in her last three visits to Beijing.
Her quest is further complicated with her draw, with the two-time major winner set to begin against rising star, Sofia Kenin on Saturday.
While Muguruza’s form has tailed this season, Kenin has been surging in the other direction. The American has put together an excellent campaign, claiming three titles and breaking into the top 20.
Kenin entered the 2019 season without a tour-level title, but she quickly addressed that with a title run in Hobart, and has gone on to add further successes in Mallorca and Guangzhou. She’s also made a final in Acapulco, and reached semi-finals in Toronto and Cincinnati.
It has not been all rosy, of course, as she has several bad patches this year, but the 20-year-old has ensured that a few bad weeks have not developed into lengthy poor spells. She has been particularly consistent over the last couple of months, winning 19 of her 24 matches since the start of the Rogers Cup in August. She had a seven-match winning streak snapped by world No. 1, Ashleigh Barty in Wuhan earlier in the week. Kenin had made such a good start to her Wuhan campaign, beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elise Mertens, but she fell 6-3 7-5 to Barty, despite leading 5-3 in the second set.
Can she return to winning ways when she takes on Muguruza for the first time in Beijing on Saturday?
Muguruza is a former champion in Beijing and a former world No. 1, and is perfectly capable of powering past Kenin on Saturday, but she has also won just one of her last seven matches, and isn’t in a great place in terms of confidence and form.
Kenin has got bags of form and confidence at the moment, and begins this first round tie as the favourite to get the win.
Garbine Muguruza vs Sofia Kenin is live from Beijing on Saturday, 28 September from 9:00pm local time/ 2:00pm BST