Muguruza sets up Sabalenka showdown at China Open

Published by Leigh Rogers

DETERMINED: Garbine Muguruza in action; Getty Images
Grand Slam champions Garbine Muguruza and Caroline Wozniacki plus world No.7 Karolina Pliskova were among the big names advancing in the women’s draw on Monday in Beijing.

Former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza declared she is ready for a China Open showdown with in-form Aryna Sabalenka.

Muguruza moved into the second round in Beijing with a 6-0 6-4 win over Russian Ekaterina Makarova on Monday.

Sabalenka, who has won 20 of her past 24 matches including her biggest career title in Wuhan last week, awaits in the next round.

“She’s been playing very well obviously, with a lot of confidence,” Muguruza noted.

“I’m excited to have in front of me one of the players that are playing well. Yeah, I’m excited about it.”

NEWS: Naomi Osaka admits US Open win was ‘bittersweet’

Muguruza has slipped to No.15 in the rankings, one place ahead of the rising 20-year-old Belarusian. The Spaniard admitted it had been a challenging season, but one she is determined to finish strongly.

“I think there is maybe two kinds of confidence: I think there is the one with the results, and the one that’s inside of you. I think I probably still feel that I’m confident with my game and with my experience and with my level,” she said.

“(But I have) probably had a few matches this year where it was tight. Not necessarily gives me less confidence. It’s just a process of keep getting into those moments, get it my way. At some point it’s going to start turning things.”

World No.2 Caroline Wozniacki also made a winning start to her China Open campaign, posting a 6-2 6-3 win over Belinda Bencic.

The reigning Australian Open champion was pleased to progress, having lost four of her past five matches against the Swiss player.

“It’s been a while since I’ve played her. I think a lot of things have happened since then,” Wozniacki admitted.

“I just stayed really steady and I tried to stay really focused. That was really it. I tried to not really think about the past matches, just think about this one as a new one, new experience.”

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Seventh seed Karolina Pliskova was under pressure early in her match against former US Open champion Sam Stosur, but rebounded to score a 6-4 6-4 win.

The Czech’s hopes of qualifying for the WTA Finals received a boost when Elise Mertens, one of her nearest rivals was eliminated in other first round action today. China’s Zhang Shuai upset the 15th-seeded Belgian, delighting home fans with a 6-1 3-6 6-3 victory.

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