May 29, 2018 / 1:04 PM / 3 months ago

Tennis: Muguruza tames Kuznetsova in battle of former champions

PARIS (Reuters) - Garbine Muguruza was facing a tricky opening round against Svetlana Kuznetsova at the French Open on Tuesday, but her victory in the battle of champions gave the Spaniard an extra boost of confidence.

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 29, 2018 Spain's Garbine Muguruza celebrates winning her first round match against Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

The third seed Muguruza, who lifted the Suzanne Lenglen Cup in 2016, prevailed 7-6(0) 6-2 in a rain-disrupted match against the 2009 champion, a claycourt expert very few would like to take on so early in the tournament.

Although she has been struggling to return to top form after undergoing wrist surgery last year, world number 43 Kuznetsova remains a formidable opponent.

Muguruza stayed focused throughout, however, and her power, speed and poise made the difference.

“It is, so to speak, (a) second-week match,” Muguruza told a news conference.

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 29, 2018 Spain's Garbine Muguruza celebrates winning her first round match against Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

“But this is going to reinforce me. It was a very good first round, and the fact that I won, although it was a very difficult match, it was a match against an expert. The last matches I have played, the results were difficult.

“And I think that I feel very encouraged by this kind of

a match.”

Muguruza dropped serve twice in the opening set but easily bagged the tiebreak.

She broke early in the second set and this time did not let her guard down against Kuznetsova, who slipped down in the rankings after returning to the tour only in March.

The Russian saved a first match point with a passing shot, Muguruza sent a backhand long on the second, but Kuznetsova bowed out after sending a forehand way too long on the third.

Muguruza next faces French wildcard Fiona Ferro.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by David Holmes and Christian Radnedge

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