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Muguruza begins season with win; Jabeur wants payback for last year from Kontaveit next

After ending last season by wining the WTA Finals in November, Garbine Muguruza kicked off her 2022 campaign with a win over Ekaterina Alexandrova and meets Daria Kastakina next

Spain's Garbine Muguruza at the Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara Spain’s Garbine Muguruza at the Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

WTA Sydney Tennis Classic | Draws | Schedule

WTA Finals champion Garbine Muguruza kicked off her 2022 campaign with a straight-sets win at the WTA Sydney Tennis Classic on Wednesday.

The Spaniard, who received a first-round bye as the No 2 seed in the draw, scored a 6-1, 7-6 win over Ekaterina Alexandrova in one hour and 26 minutes to advance to the quarter-finals.

She will next meet Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, who scored a 6-3, 6-4 win over Belgium’s Elise Mertens in one hour and 11 minutes, also on Wednesday. A former world No 10 and currently ranked 26th in the world, Kasatkina has a 2-3 lifetime record against Muguruza with four of their five matches going to three sets.

Speaking after her win, Muguruza said she was happy to get through her first match of the season in straight sets, “The most pleased I was that I stood very calmly in the second set when I was, you know 5-4 down and serving and having all those set points where you can get a little bit upset, you know, go to the third set. I was happy like I stood there and said, Listen, I’m still serving, I’m still here, and the set is not over. So, you know, to manage the anxiety, playing the first match of the year and you want to win and you want to start with the right foot, like I said before, so just managing those moments that the last match was two months ago so it’s been a while.”

Jabeur and Kontaveit join Muguruza in quarter-finals

At the end of last season, the chase for the final berth at the WTA Finals event between Anett Kontaveit and Ons Jabeur led to a friendship between the two. On Wednesday, both players won their second round matches to set up an intriguing quarter-final clash.

Jabeur, seeded seventh, scored a 6-4, 6-4 win over two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova. This was Jabeur’s first win in four career meetings over the Czech left-hander, who had won all their earlier matches in straight sets.

Meanwhile Kontaveit, the No 4 seed, defeated Romanian qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3, 6-1. The Tunisian has a 3-1 edge in head-to-head over Kontaveit, including winning both their clashes in 2021.

Looking ahead, Jabeur said she is looking ahead to their quarter-final clash and wants some payback after Kontaveit’s late-season surge knocked Jabeur out of the top 8 for the WTA Finals.

“Anett is a great player. You know, we had our moments last year. I told her, You’re obsessed with me, you always follow me, so stop (smiling). But it’s great to have her on tour. She’s a tough player. Even the matches we played against each other were always tough. Let’s see. It’s a different court. It’s a different country. Honestly, I’m going to do my best. I know the pressure is on me, not really on her. But maybe some payback for last year, you know, (smiling).”

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