Gutsy Muguruza passes huge Kontaveit test
Garbine Muguruza hauled herself off the ropes to beat Anett Kontaveit after the defending champion was given a huge scare by the rising star from Estonia in the second round of the French Open.
Fourth seed Muguruza has endured a huge struggle since winning her maiden grand slam at Roland Garros last year and looked destined for an early exit before digging herself out of a hole to win 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-2.
The Spaniard lost to powerful world number 53 Kontaveit at the Stuttgart Open last month and was unable to live with her clean hitting and precision for much of a thrilling contest on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Muguruza weathered the storm and fought back from a break down in the second set to deny the 21-year-old, who showed how she has climbed the rankings from 110 in the world at the end of last year, and ensure she will face Yulia Putintseva in round three.
Kontaveit started with confidence and a blistering cross-court forehand earned her three break points, of which she only needed one, fizzing a sublime winner past Muguruza to lead 3-1.
The Tallinn native's backhand was also firing as she surged into a 5-2 lead, but she failed to serve out the set and a battling Muguruza roared with a clenched fist after her opponent drilled a backhand long to be pegged back at 5-5.
Venezuela-born powerhouse Muguruza showed the other side to her game by executing a deft drop shot to perfection, which went down well with the purists in Paris, but she was struggling with the toss of the ball and blasted a forehand way beyond the baseline to lose a tie-break.
Kontaveit set the tone for the second set with a fierce backhand winner and marched into a 3-1 lead, yet the world number five hung in there and broke back to level at 3-3.
The favourite got herself out of trouble by saving two break points in the next game, in which she was dazed with another barrage of big hitting, and reeled off three games in a row to take a gripping contest into a deciding set.
A tumble from the chair umpire eased the tension for a moment or two during what was a high quality second set and the standard remained high in the third, with Muguruza getting the break to lead 4-2 after putting Kontaveit on the back foot as she went on to complete a great escape.
Muguruza  bt Kontaveit 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-2
Muguruza - 27/30
Kontaveit - 36/40
Muguruza - 2/3
Kontaveit - 3/4
BREAK POINTS WON
Muguruza - 5/7
Kontaveit - 2/4
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Muguruza - 60
Kontaveit - 63
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Muguruza - 72/56
Kontaveit - 63/55
Muguruza - 94
Kontaveit - 85