The Pick: Yulia Putintseva vs. Garbiñe Muguruza, WTA Charleston

The Pick: Yulia Putintseva vs. Garbiñe Muguruza, WTA Charleston

The WTA match wins leader in 2021 is looking to make a run on the green clay in Charleston, but will the Kazakh have other ideas come Thursday?

Garbiñe Muguruza’s torrid pace to the 2021 season continued in Charleston with her opening 6-1, 6-3 victory over Magdalena Frech on Tuesday. The Spaniard, who leads the WTA with 21 wins this season, will face the tricky and talented Yulia Putintseva, who dismantled her countrywoman Zarina Diyas 6-2, 6-2, in her second round. 

Volvo Car Open/Chris Smith

Muguruza has appeared in Charleston just once before, losing to Jessica Pegula in 2013—by far the biggest win of the American’s career at the time. There is no question that familiarity on green clay is beneficial, as movement and sliding are not alike to European red dirt.

“This clay is similar to European from the outside, but as pro tennis players, we feel everything, so it feels like it’s not as easy to slide on this clay. It’s a bit more compact, and the bounces are tricky,” Muguruza said. 

The bounces are tricky, and so is the variety that Putintseva will provide. It’s imperative Muguruza take care of her service games, as Putintseva is an explosive mover and slides well on the green clay, but is no match for the Spaniard in the service department.

Not only will Putintseva have a slight movement advantage in this match, her variety could cause problems. Here, she chips a short slice to bring Diyas to the net, then easily passes her. This play could be very effective on Thursday. 

Muguruza’s best bet is to punish Putintseva’s first and second serve, like she does here against Frech. 

According to the oddsmakers, Muguruza is a massive -500 favorite and projected to win by 5.5 total games. Given her unfamiliarity with the surface, that seems a bit steep. By no means expect Putintseva to pull off the upset, but she should keep things relatively close. 

The Pick: Muguruza to win, Putintseva to lose by less than 5.5 games