French Open 2016: Muguruza’s Rise

Garbine Muguruza won the 2016 Roland Garros title after spending much of her previous 52 weeks searching for the form that led her to 2015 Wimbledon final.  Muguruza was able to defeat Serena Williams by playing an incredible brand of tennis.  The Spaniard served big, volleyed well, hit big returns, and used her groundstrokes to dictate play.  While Muguruza’s movement is not a strength, it is also importantly not a weakness.

Two Major Keys

Garbine’s first two service games of the match came with her trailing 0-1, and 1-2. Muguruza did not hold easily in either game.  She did however hold when her groundstrokes had not yet found their range.  This prevented her from falling behind Serena as the match commenced.

Secondly, Muguruza was leading 7-5, 5-3 and earned 4 match points on Serena’s serve. Serena played strong points to win 2 of the 4 match points, but Muguruza did meekly dump a backhand into the net on one match point.   Muguruza also had a near miss on a big attempted return that could have ended the match.  The young Spaniard certainly could have mentally frozen after coming so close to winning.  Serena’s service hold forced Garbine into what had to be a long changeover.  Garbine proceeded to put in quality serves and race to a 40-0 lead.  On this match point, the Spaniard won with her only lob of the day.  I was quite impressed with Muguruza holding serve at love to close out a match that could have ended one game earlier.

Final Thought: Muguruza’s manufactured holds to start the match and ability to close the match out both showed me she can win even when circumstances are not ideal.

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