Losses offer lessons

Wimbledon finalist Muguruza wants a strong run in this week's Pan Pacific Open to help her make next month's WTA Finals in Singapore. She is currently 10th in the standings, with only the top eight qualifying.
Wimbledon finalist Muguruza wants a strong run in this week's Pan Pacific Open to help her make next month's WTA Finals in Singapore. She is currently 10th in the standings, with only the top eight qualifying.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Muguruza knows early exits can also help her gain experience in her quest to reach the top

It was not too long ago that Garbine Muguruza was still described as a "rising star" on the Women's Tennis Association tour, generating some interest at tournaments but largely still flying under the radar.

But in the last year or so, the Spaniard has become one of the brightest in a constellation of up-and-comers on the women's professional tour. But shining and dazzling, as she has come to realise, comes with steep learning curves.

Her ascent started with her demolition of Serena Williams at last year's French Open, when she won 6-2, 6-2 in the second round, handing the American her most lop-sided loss at a Grand Slam tournament.

Muguruza then made a fairy-tale run to the Wimbledon final this year, but did not get the better of the world No. 1 this time in a 4-6, 4-6 loss.

The result catapulted the affable Spaniard to a career-high ranking of No. 8, but it also left her spent.


  • Garbine Muguruza was born in Caracas, Venezuela, to a Spanish father and Venezuelan mother, but now calls Barcelona home.

    She faced the dilemma of representing Venezuela or Spain late last year but eventually chose the latter.

  • Like many athletes,Muguruza chose to follow a routine that has worked in leading her to her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon this year. That included brushing her teeth at the same time and not flying her parents from Barcelona to London to watch her play the final.

  • She qualified for the WTA Finals Singapore last year - as a doubles player, partnering fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro. They lost their opening match to China's Peng Shuai and Chinese Taipei's Hsieh Su-wei. Both Spaniards are in the running to qualify this year as singles players.

The 22-year-old, who will begin her campaign as the Toray Pan Pacific Open's third seed against Czech Barbora Strycova today, told The Straits Times in a phone interview from Tokyo that her first Major final dealt her important lessons.

"I had a rough time. You don't know how your body is going to react after something you've never been through," she said. "I finished that tournament empty. I had to start from zero again."

After leaving the grass courts of SW19, she exited her next three tournaments early, falling to qualifiers at the Rogers Cup, Cincinnati Open and this month's US Open.

But to her, these experiences are necessary in her bid to reach the top of her profession.

She said: "It's hard, but I think I have to live all kinds of experience. Next time I know if I do something really good, I have to be calm or ready for the next tournament.

"If you want to be at the highest level, you have to have good and bad times. I'm extremely happy with how I'm doing now."

A similarly good run at this week's tournament in Tokyo - she was a semi-finalist last year - will see Muguruza make a strong push to compete at the Oct 23-Nov 1 WTA Finals. She is currently 10th on the Road to Singapore, with the top eight players qualifying.

Muguruza said of her experience at Wimbledon: "(It made) me open my eyes and see that I have the level. I can be here, I can win big tournaments. (I did) something that not so many people can do... it's just confidence in yourself."

Even with the unstoppable force that is Williams - the American won three of this year's four Grand Slams - the Spaniard said there is a greater belief on Tour that the door to a Major trophy is open to anyone who dares to knock on it.

She noted that more "new names" have made a run for Major titles recently, including Italian Roberta Vinci, who upset Williams at the US Open, Czech Lucie Safarova, who made this year's French Open final, and Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, last year's Wimbledon runner-up.

Said Muguruza: "We are all human, not superheroes. We all have opportunity - we just have to know when and how to take it.

"Being consistent is the hardest part at this level. The difference is so small.

"I'm learning really fast and getting so much experience from matches. But it takes time. We all want to go fast, but you cannot go faster than the music."

Meanwhile, the WTA has announced that 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli will feature in the WTA Legends Classic. She joins Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in the exhibition event that will run alongside the WTA Finals.

• Tickets to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global are available at www.sportshubtix.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2015, with the headline 'LOSSES OFFER LESSONS'. Print Edition | Subscribe