Controlled Aggression

That was the first thought that came to mind as Muguruza… and there’s no better way to say this, slowly but surely outclassed her more accomplished opponent on Saturday.  Playing any of the Williamses in a Grand Slam final is an overwhelming experience and trying to beat them, a Herculean task.  Muguruza now stands alone as the only woman to beat both Williams sisters, in a Grand Slam final.

This one is perhaps more surprising than her defeat of Serena Williams at the French Open.  After all, clay is the weakest surface for both sisters and grass remains one of their favorites.  In fact, it is Venus Williams favorite surface.  Five of her seven grand slam titles have come on grass, at Wimbledon.  With that kind of history behind her, even those who believed Muguruza would win must have imagined her doing it over a hard fought three set contest.  No one saw a 7 – 5, 6 – 0 score coming.

How did Muguruza do it?  This match was really a tale of two sets and despite what appears to be a lopsided score, it could have gone either way.  The key difference was Garbine’s refusal to give Venus an inch, particularly during the big points.  Like her younger sister, Venus thrives off of the short ball, which allows her to dictate rallies using her massive groundstrokes.  Soft strokes at good length won’t do the trick either.  Venus’s groundstrokes are so well timed, she can generate her own power even when faced with the difficult task of half-volleying from the baseline.  Inject some good pace into that shot and keep it deep, and now you are asking her the right questions.

Down 4 -5 in the first set, that’s exactly what Muguruza did.  She wasn’t going for outright winners all the time, but her shots were like body blows and her movement on the baseline was gazelle-like… Almost Venus-like.  That movement allowed her to redirect so many potential winners back with pace.  It was a combination that proved too much for Venus and by the second set, the legend’s game completely unraveled.

It takes a special kind of player to do that to Venus Williams, in a final, on Grass.  Garbine Muguruza is that kind of player.  With a Wimbledon trophy finally in her arms, one wonders if this experience will not transform her into a consistently formidable force on tour, as it has done to so many players in the past.  The future remains to be seen but that steady aggression if played right, is sure to win more big trophies down the line.


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