All three meetings between the two fell within the space of a year and all fell the way of Sharapova. That was three years and nine months ago and both have been through huge changes since, with Sharapova failing to add to her Grand Slam tally of five and Muguruza winning her first two majors. Sharapova eased past the rising Spanish talent in Rome 2013 but needed three sets to end Muguruza's bold run in the 2014 Roland-Garros quarter-finals, after Muguruza had stunned Serena in the second round. Sharapova would go on to claim her second Paris title that year. Three months later, it was the Russian again through in three in a hard-court duel in Montreal.
Form coming in
Muguruza had not reached a clay-court quarter-final in 2018 while Sharapova posted her best results of the season with a quarter-final run in Madrid and a semi-final finish in Rome. The Spaniard has played lights-out where it really matters in Paris, however, yet to drop a set in victories over former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and former finalist Samantha Stosur. Sharapova somehow survived scampering Dutch spoiler Richel Hogenkamp in a scrappy first round before putting the foot down against Donna Vekic and last year’s semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova. Both women will be fresh after Williams handed Sharapova a walkover and Lesia Tsurenko retired after just two games against Muguruza in the fourth round.
The red clay in Paris is where Muguruza had her first taste of Grand Slam qualifying. While she came up short of reaching the main draw in 2012, four years later she was planting a kiss on the Coupe-Suzanne-Lenglen, having reached the quarter-finals in both years prior. With a 19-4 record it is her strongest major. Once the self-dubbed “cow on ice” when sliding on clay, Sharapova would be the first to admit her Roland-Garros record is quite the anomaly on her Grand Slam CV. On what was typically her weakest surface, she went on to become a two-time champion (2012, 2014), the only Slam she has captured more than once.
Two of the taller competitors on tour – both above 1.8 metres – the extra time and higher bounces on the clay play perfectly into Muguruza and Sharapova's hitting zones off both wings. It’s very much first-strike tennis from both, as two heavy-hitting baseliners seek to take control of the point early, with Muguruza holding an edge in the movement stakes. If both can bring their third-round form (Muguruza over Stosur, Sharapova against Pliskova) then we’re in for a treat.