A Python and its Prey

Garbine Muguruza’s shots are very heavy. That was the prevailing thought in my mind as I watched her destroy Simona Halep, 6-1, 6-0, in the Cincinnati final.

Muguruza has been in fine form since capturing her second grand slam and first Wimbledon title a little while ago. However, it is her confidence and trust in her game, that stands out to me. Muguruza’s power is not as obvious as that of say the Williamses. It is in effect a silent killer only felt by the opponent whose racket buckles when trying to return her groundstrokes, and seen by how off balance they look as the Spaniard’s shots threaten to knock them over. Those shots are seething with power and Halep, who was on the receiving end, had no answer.

But it isn’t just Garbine’s power that impresses, but the way she uses it. She’s got this innate spatial awareness that can’t be taught. With it, she always seems to know exactly where her opponent is on the court, and perhaps more dangerously, exactly where to put the ball in order to give her opponent the most grief getting to it. Combine this with the weight of her shots and Halep was in trouble from the start. Yet her troubles didn’t end there.

Muguruza for all her offense, isn’t credited enough for how well she defends from the back of the court. Despite Halep’s diminutive stature, she can whack the ball. She did just that, anytime she seemingly had the upper hand in the rally… seemingly. Muguruza, like she did to Venus in Wimbledon, made Simona play one more shot than she could in those situations. The result was a flurry of errors.

By the fourth game of the second set, Halep looked like a hare caught in the coils of a python. Each breath was followed by its ruthless constriction and the end was inevitable.

With Serena preparing to bring new life into the world, Victoria locked in an unfortunate custody battle with her baby’s father, Sharapova still finding her way, Venus aging and the rest of the field practically afraid to step up, it is a relieving sight to see Muguruza do so.

The WTA certainly needs a player like her.


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