Muguruza shrugs off 'next big thing' talk

Spain's Garbine Muguruza in action at the Brisbane International tennis tournament on Jan 6, 2016.
Spain's Garbine Muguruza in action at the Brisbane International tennis tournament on Jan 6, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE • Garbine Muguruza says she is not burdened by talk that she has what it takes to succeed Serena Williams as the next big thing in women's tennis.

The 22-year-old Spaniard has steadily risen through the rankings since 2010 to a career-high No. 3, and gets her Australian Open under way tomorrow against Estonia's Anett Kontaveit.

She is searching for her Grand Slam breakthrough after making the final of Wimbledon last year, her best showing at a Grand Slam, but lost to Williams. At 34, the long-time queen of tennis cannot keep going forever and Muguruza appears to have all the attributes to take on the role as world No. 1.

"Every time I hear (it) I'm like 'puhhhhh, yeah, whatever'. I really don't know what to say. I feel good when people think that I can do it, but I'm like, 'yeah, we'll see'," she told the Melbourne Age.

"For sure everybody has a lot of expectations, but I think it's good, I think it's a great position to be where people believe that you can actually do it."

After claiming her first Women's Tennis Association title at Hobart in 2014, last year was a watershed for Muguruza. She also reached the final in Wuhan while winning the title at Beijing before making the semi-finals of the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore.

Now, she has another weapon: Sam Sumyk, who guided Victoria Azarenka to the top of the women's game and to successive Australian Open titles in 2012 and 2013.

But Muguruza revealed that her new coach has yet to impart any specific tips on what it would take to land a maiden Grand Slam title on the Melbourne Park hard courts.

"There is no recipe," she said. "I've been working and practising for (a Grand Slam title).

"That's my dream, obviously, but there are 128 players that want the same, so let's see how far I can get."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2016, with the headline 'Muguruza shrugs off 'next big thing' talk'. Print Edition | Subscribe