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Defeated Kerber will lose World No.1 spot

 

By Paul Newman

Living up to her achievement in reaching the Wimbledon final two years ago did not prove easy for Garbine Muguruza last summer, but the 23-year-old Spaniard is back in the quarter-finals thanks to a pulsating 4-6 6-4 6-4 victory over Angelique Kerber.

Muguruza, who fell to Jana Cepelova in the second round here 12 months ago, underlined her recent domination of Kerber to complete a fifth successive victory over the World No.1 thanks to a performance full of attacking flair.

While Muguruza does not charge relentlessly into the net, the World No.15 knows how to exploit her strengths on this surface. Muguruza hits the ball with impressive power and is not afraid to attack when given the opportunity.

In the quarter-finals Muguruza will face Svetlana Kuznetsova, who ended the hopes of another former runner-up here by beating Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-4.

Kerber's defeat means that she will lose the World No.1 position - to Simona Halep or Karolina Pliskova - in next week's updated ranking list.

Fans were treated to a fascinating contrast of styles. Muguruza, who hits the ball with appreciably more power than Kerber, tried to dictate with her big ground strokes from the back of the court before coming forward.

Kerber, in contrast, was happy to rally from the baseline. The German defended superbly and tried to pull Muguruza from side to side. The longer the rallies went on, the more they worked in Kerber's favour.

On serve Muguruza had a clear edge in power but it was often the German who made the greater inroads into her opponent's service games. Muguruza might have been expected to take more advantage of the lack of pace in Kerber's second serves, but what she lacked in power she often made up for with accuracy.

Kerber took the opening set in 43 minutes thanks to a single break of serve in the ninth game. In the second there were no breaks until Kerber served at 4-5, by which time the German had had to defend only one break point. Here, she saved a second break point with a thumping winner, but on the third Muguruza took the set.

The momentum swung one way and then the other in a dramatic final set. Kerber broke serve in the opening game, but three games later hurled her racket to the floor as Muguruza broke back.

There were successive breaks of serve in the next two games. At 3-3 Muguruza, crucially, saved four break points and when Kerber served at 4-5 it was she who finally cracked.

Muguruza's pleasure was evident in her beaming smile in acknowledging the crowd's prolonged applause. On this showing she will take some beating here.

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