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She's the one to beat, Kerber says of Muguruza

Beaten Kerber hails Spaniard as the one to beat

Her answers were smooth and her tone soothing.

In another life, Garbine Muguruza would have made a perfect night-time radio deejay.

But, in this universe, the tennis starlet is on a meteoric rise, and on the cusp of making the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global on her singles debut.

The 22-year-old Spaniard collected her second win in the White Group last night when she beat world No. 7 Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-4 in 98 minutes.

It was Muguruza's fourth win against the German in five meetings this year, and puts her in pole position for a place in the last four, barring a freak set of results tomorrow, when she next plays in the singles competition.

Muguruza said: "Well, definitely I'm feeling very good. You never know how it's going to go here when you come for the first time. For sure, I'm very happy of how is it going.

"Hopefully, I can keep playing like this. It's great to be here playing in the singles and doubles.

"I've played all the year in singles and doubles, so it's great to have this pay-off being here."

The 1.82m-tall player is also still in the doubles competition with Carla Suarez Navarro, and will face Taiwanese pair Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan in the group stages today.

"For sure, it's a challenge to come here and play singles and doubles," cooed Muguruza.

"I know that, but I'm really motivated on both sides, so hopefully I can win as much as I can in both the singles and doubles.

"I know I will be more tired, for sure, but it's a risk I take."

Kerber said her victorious opponent is now a "dangerous player".

The 27-year-old said: "Right now, she has a lot of confidence from the last few weeks, which helps her in this important moment. I think that's why she is so dangerous right now."

Muguruza will end her singles group-stage campaign tomorrow against Petra Kvitova, who beat Lucie Safarova 7-5, 7-5 in the other White Group tie yesterday.


Kvitova said: "Garbine and I practised together before the tournament started. I think she's going to play very aggressively, going for the shots and having good serves.

"It's going to be about the returns and serves. It's going to be a difficult match for sure. But we'll see, I've never played her before and I am looking forward."

And while Muguruza enjoys playing in both the singles and doubles, she said she will cut down on her competition load next year, after speaking to her doubles partner at the end of the season.

"With Carla, we've agreed before to play together for two years," she said. "I think it (playing doubles) was great for my improvement in the singles - I've learnt a lot in terms of volleys and going to the net.

"But I think next year's going to be different. We have to sit down and talk.

"For sure we are going to play in fewer tournaments because it's hard to play singles and doubles.

"This year was really hard for me."

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Power is the name of the game

That is why players like Serena and Sharapova will continue to rule tennis, says Pierce

Mary Pierce
She is a big strong girl, she hits hard, she’s aggressive... she’s got the power, yes. - Mary Pierce on Garbine Muguruza

She was stumped by the imaginative guile of Martina Hingis in an entertaining Australian Open final in 1997, and on nine other occasions between 1994 and 2000.

But Mary Pierce believes that the creativity and court-craft of players in the mould of Hingis cannot match up to the sheer power that dominates the women's game today. 

Speaking on the sidelines of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, the now-retired Pierce  points to power as the baseline of Serena Williams' dominance, asserting that players such Spain's statuesque Garbine Muguruza will see more joy than the tricksy Pole Agnieszka Radwanska. 

"Power is important, if you don't have it, you're not going to defeat everybody. You will get very far, but then you'll get to a point where you can't beat the other players," said Pierce whose power saw her overcome Hingis six times during her playing career most remembered for two Grand Slam wins, including an emotional French Open title in 2000.  

"That's why Serena's dominating, she is physically at a level that's greater than all the other girls . 

"She takes the ball earlier than everyone else, she hits the ball harder than everyone else, the most aggressive, and that's why she's dominating." 

Pierce is a non-playing legend of the WTA Legends Classic, and her point seems to be substantiated by Radwanska's two losses in Singapore, and world No. 2 Simona Halep's 6-4, 6-4 loss to Maria Sharapova on Tuesday. 

"I just think Simona's lacking just that little bit of firepower. Obviously, she did so well here last year, she beat Serena, then lost the final," said Pierce, recalling Halep beating Williams in the group stage, only to lose to the American in the final.  

"But I just don't think, from what I've seen so far, that she's got enough power to beat the other girls," added the Frenchwoman, who has tipped Sharapova to win in Singapore. 

When asked if games centred on subtlety and cunning - of the likes of Hingis and Radwanska - will be snuffed out by power, Pierce did not mince her words.

"I was going to say that. Obviously, Hingis has tried to play singles, it didn't work for her obviously because she's lacking the power, and she recognises that," said Pierce of the Swiss former world No. 1, who has five Grand Slam singles wins. 

Hingis retired in 2007, and returned six years later to play in doubles competition, with Daniela Hantuchova. Hingis and India's Sania Mirza are now the No. 1 ranked doubles pairing in the world.   

"That's why she's so successful in doubles, it's half the court, it's craftiness. She's got amazing hands and she returns really well. She places her serve really well, it's hard to read, and she can do great - she is doing great in doubles," added Pierce. 

The dominance of the power game is not just confined to tennis, added Pierce, who is keeping one eye on the ongoing Rugby World Cup, even though her countrymen were booted out of the tournament by the New Zealand at the quarter-final stage.

The All Blacks will face Trans-Tasman rivals Australia in Saturday's final in which Pierce can't see any other outcome besides a New Zealand victory. 

"It's sad for France, but they're not bad, they're just not the best. The All Blacks are too good, it's like Serena - the same thing - they're stronger, physically, than all the other guys, they're amazing," she said. 

"I've no doubt (that the Kiwis will win), I'll be surprised if they didn't."

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