So where does the talented Spaniard go from here? It’s hard to say. There have been so many “up and coming” type players over the decades. Some make it big. Some become journeywomen players. Some make a big splash and fade away. Some don’t pan out at all. Obviously, Garbine has already surpassed that last category. She’s only 20, so there’s no rush to do everything right away. If she’s just competitive the rest of this year and then maybe picks up a title or two in 2015, that would be growth. For now, a title in Hobart is a great start to what could be a successful career.
I wrote the above passage in a post I made after Garbine Muguruza won the 2014 Hobart International (read it here: Tsvetana Pironkova, Garbine Muguruza First Time Champions in Sydney and Hobart). I didn’t know what Mugu would become back then. We all know now. With a powerful and emphatic 7-5 6-4 win over 21-time singles Major winner Serena Williams in the Roland Garros 2016 final, Garbine Muguruza has made it big. This was not some sloppy effort from the top seeded, #1 ranked Serena where she gave the match away. 4th seed Garbi used a complete, high-quality power attack to take this title from one of the greatest champions in sports history. Mugu’s blistering shotmaking and, more importantly, her mental toughness elicited comparisons to Maria Sharapova’s 2004 Wimbledon win over Serena. There are some similarities in their games and physiques except that I would say Mugu moves around the court far better than Masha.
There were times in this match where Serena could have turned the tables, but Garbi would not panic or succumb to nerves like so many others do against the world #1. The key game in the match to me was when Mugu was up a break 6-5 in the first set and serving to close it out. However, Serena fought to get the 12th game to 15-40 double break point in her advantage. Mugu had been up a break twice in the first set. Had she lost her second break lead to go to a 6-6 tiebreak, I think things could have gone sideways for the Spanish/Venezuelan player. I’ve seen so many players get leads against Williams only to squander them and find themselves in a tiebreak shootout where Serena’s big serve wipes them out. Mugu refused to give in, refused to crumble. She erased the break points, holding her nerves through several deuce scores to finally take the first set 7-5. Had Serena forced a first set tiebreak, I strongly believe I would be writing about her 22nd Major win in singles right now.
Instead, I’m writing about the first Major win for Garbine Muguruza. At 22-years old, barring injury or burnout, expect this to be the first of multiple Major wins for Mugu. There are a lot of young, potential future Major champions on tour like Simona Halep, Madison Keys, Belinda Bencic and Sloane Stephens, to name a few. Clearly, Mugu looks like the best of the bunch right now. If Serena is the litmus test, Garbi has the power to end points early but also the consistency to rally without getting pushed around. And this is the second straight time Garbine Muguruza has beaten Serena Williams at Roland Garros. Usually Serena is nearly invincible in rematches. I’ve seen players like Bencic, Stephens and Halep beat Serena, but in all of those matches Williams helped out a little with mistakes or injury. A great point about Mugu’s win today is that while Serena had a slight injury issue coming into the match, nobody was using it as an excuse after the match. This win had nothing to do with Williams gift wrapping it for Garbi. It had everything to do with Mugu being the best player on the court on this day.
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4 GARBINE MUGURUZA d. 1 Serena Williams, 7-5 6-4