?? Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham R1 Preview
?? (1) Garbine Muguruza vs. ?? Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
The top seeded Garbine Muguruza will begin her Birmingham campaign with a potentially tricky opening round clash against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. This will be Muguruza’s first match on grass since claiming her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last year, it will be interesting to see what type of form Muguruza starts the 2018 grass courts season with at the Nature Valley Classic.
Muguruza enters the grass court swing on the back of another deep run at Roland Garros. The Spaniard made it all the way to the semi-finals in Paris where she was beaten by Simona Halep in straight sets. It was in Birmingham last year that Muguruza started to gain momentum before her Wimbledon success with a semi-final showing. Muguruza did not grow up on grass but her powerful game has proven to be very dangerous on this surface, expect her to be contending for titles over the next month on the grass.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will be searching for her first victory in Birmingham since 2009, granted she has only played in Birmingham on a couple of occasions. Pavlyuchenkova showed signs of a form reversal in Strasbourg a few weeks ago where she won the title but went on to lose in the second round at Roland Garros against Sam Stosur, a straight set loss. The Russian has never really found her feet on grass, in 2017 she suffered a shock first round exit at Wimbledon against Arina Rodionova.
Muguruza holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Pavlyuchenkova. The Spaniard has won all of 3 of the completed matches between the pair, most recently a 7-5 6-1 win in Cincinnati. Pavlyuchenkova beat Muguruza earlier this year in Stuttgart courtesy of a Muguruza retirement after a close opening set.