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By Kieran Jackson | Thursday, June 21, 2018

 
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Garbiñe Muguruza slumped, while Petra Kvitova soared in Birmingham.

Photo credit: tk Sparta Prague / Pavel Atriplex (Sport-pics CZ)

Top seed Garbiñe Muguruza slumped to a surprise straight-sets loss to Barbora Strycova in the second round at the Nature Valley Classic today, losing 6-2, 6-4.

The defending Wimbledon champion made 29 unforced errors in an uncharacteristically sloppy performance, and despite leading 4-2 in the second set, the Spaniard dropped four games in a row to hand her Czech opponent the victory.


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“I like this tournament—it feels very nice to be here”, said Strycova, the world number 24, who reached the final in Birmingham in 2014 and 2017. “I was a long time in Paris [at Roland Garros], so I wasn’t sure if I could come here. But I like to come here, I like the people, the surroundings
I enjoy playing on grass here.”

Despite the loss, Muguruza saw the advantages of an early loss post-match. “In a way it’s good. We have a lot of time now to prepare [for Wimbledon]. Barbora plays very good on grass. Her style of game suits the surface very good.”

It will be a surprising quarterfinal match-up in the top half of the draw, as Strycova will next play Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko, who beat sixth seed Daria Kasatkina 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

The qualifier, who has now won five consecutive matches at the Edgbaston Priory Club, recovered well after a heavy first set loss, whilst Kasatkina’s level dropped to a level where she won only 27 percent of points on her second serve.

There was no such troubles for defending champion Petra Kvitova however, who cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 win against Australian Daria Gavrilova.

The two-time Wimbledon winner, who before the match had a losing 2-1 record against her opponent, had too much power for the world number 25, barely coming out of first gear in securing a comfortable win in windy conditions.

“There’s still a few things I can improve—the serve, probably”, said the Czech number two. “But the grass helped me, that’s my surface. It was great.”

Kvitova will play fifth seed Julia Goerges in a potentially intriguing last eight encounter, as the German brought Ashleigh Barty’s impressive grass-court win streak to a halt in a 7-6 (6), 6-3 victory.

Barty, who won the title last week in Nottingham, fatigued as the match wore on, with Goerges’ aggressive performance
which included 12 acesproving too much for the Australian 22-year old

Friday’s order of play sees quarterfinal action get underway, with all four semifinalists to be decided.

Last year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova opens up against Slovenian qualifier Dalila Jakupovic, before Muguruza’s conqueror Strycova takes on Tsuernko.

This is followed by Goerges vs Kvitova, and Elina Svitolina
the highest remaining seed in the tournament at number twoagainst Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Freelance sports journalist Kieran Jackson is covering the grass-court season ahead of Wimbledon for Tennis Now. For more of Kieran's tennis coverage, follow him on Twitter.

 

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