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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, March 25, 2017

 
Garbine Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza rallied from a set down for the second straight match advancing to the Miami Open fourth round for the fourth time.

Photo credit: Miami Open

A rain delay gave Garbine Muguruza a second chance in her comeback win over Christina McHale yesterday.

An emotional recharge inspired Muguruza’s rally from a set down today.

Watch: Miami Open Live Blog

Combining positive energy and a forward-thinking approach, Muguruza won 12 of the final 16 games defeating Shuai Zhang, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, to charge into the Miami Open fourth round for the fourth time.

No. 26-seeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni blasted fifth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-0, 6-3. Lucic-Baroni won 10 of the first 12 games in dominating the match.




It was the second time this season Lucic-Baroni laid a thrashing on Radwanska following a 6-3, 6-2 demolition in the Australian Open second round.

The 35-year-old Lucic-Baroni will take on wild card Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the fourth round.

Serving-and-volleying on critical points down the stretch, Mattek-Sands dug out some terrific volleys surprising 17th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3. World No. 1 doubles player Mattek-Sands, who is ranked No. 158 in singles, will face Lucic-Baroni for the first time.

Last month in Doha, Zhang edged Muguruza, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-5, and cracked the ball down the line with timely strikes in today’s rematch.

In the latter stages of the set, Muguruza’s first serve went missing.

Floating her second double fault into net, Muguruza gifted a third break and the set to Zhang.

Requesting a consultation with coach Sam Sumyk. Muguruza was much calmer than she was during a moody and volatile exchange with her coach during her comeback win over Christina McHale yesterday.

Sumyk urged his charge to change direction and drive her forehand down the line during crosscourt exchanges, find the right blend of “variety and aggressivity” and to vary the height of her shots when playing to her opponent’s forehand.

That visit instilled clarity and aggression in the reigning Roland Garros.




Commanding the center of the court, Muguruza reeled off four consecutive games to take charge of the second set. Bending low to the ball and using her legs to drive through her shots, Muguruza drilled a backhand winner down the line to snatch the 36-minute second set.

A stray serve cost Zhang, who double faulted to face triple break point in the third game. Muguruza pounced on a second serve pinning the world No. 33 on her backfoot and coaxing the first break of the decider for 2-1. Muguruza backed up the break with a quick hold.

That sequence empowered Muguruza, who slashed a winner down the line breaking again for 4-1. A willingness to move forward helped Muguruza turned the match around. Blocking a forehand volley into the corner, she extended the lead to 5-1.

Serving for the match at 5-2, Muguruza tested the lines for slickness after a brief spit of rain then slid into a triple-break point cloud. She slid an ace to erase the first, put a backhand inside the line to deny the second and swiped aside the third on a Zhang error into net.




Another forehand into net gave a fired-up Muguruza match point. She finished it in style racing forward to plant a forehand volley into the corner.

Muguruza will face either Sorana Cirstea or 14th-ranked Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the quarterfinals.

 

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