Melbourne - Garbine Muguruza proved too strong for American
Samantha Crawford as the seventh seed overcame a tough examination to make the
third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The hard-hitting Spaniard struggled through 7-5, 6-4 and
will next play Latvian 32nd seed Anastasija Sevastova, who beat Kristina Kucova
in two easy sets.
The French Open champion, with her right thigh strapped
after complaining of a sore leg during her first round clash, is yet to go
beyond the fourth round at Melbourne Park.
But she said ahead of the tournament she had matured and
learned to better handle the pressure of being a top-10 player.
"She was super-powerful and hit the ball very hard,
which made it difficult," Muguruza said. "Today, I had to concentrate
and wait for my opportunity."
Muguruza showed few signs of early nerves on a cool evening
on Rod Laver Arena.
Rather it was 76th-ranked Crawford, a former US Open junior
champion, who had the jitters, struggling to find her touch with a string of
unforced errors as Muguruza rushed to a 3-0 lead.
But the American, who made a big run to the semi-final in
Brisbane last year which remains her career highlight to date, started to get
in the zone and broke in game four to get back in the contest.
Muguruza has always struggled with consistency and was
rattled by Crawford's blitz, dropping four games in a row to go 3-4 behind.
Both players are thunderous hitters of the ball and there
were some fierce rallies before the Spanish star finally got a break in the
11th game and held on to take a tough set.
But it was far from convincing from a player who opened her
season with a run to the Brisbane International semi-finals.
The two, in their first career meeting, went neck and neck
in the second set with little between them until Muguruza broke to go 5-4 ahead
and served out the win.