Over the next two weeks, the first serve series will be previewing our top male and female players and top returnees as we build up to the first grand slam of the year. We’ll analyze what they’ve got going for them and what they need to do to be successful in 2018.
Last year Garbine Muguruza distanced herself from that half compliment, One slam wonder, by capturing her second grand slam title at the venue she’d always wanted to win in – Wimbledon. Has anyone else defeated both Williamses to win her first two slams? Garbine has a bright future ahead of her and with Serena Williams returning to tour with no idea how she’ll do other than knowing that she’s been great before childbirth and can certainly be after, Muguruza has a chance to establish herself as the leading lady on the women’s tour. It won’t be easy.
Garbine Muguruza has all the gifts to pile up the majors in her career. She’s already got two, but you watch her play at her ruthless best and you have a feeling she’s got a lot more where those two came from. She has an easy power that is so well disguised because of her uncanny ability to put the ball where it is most difficult for her opponent to hit it back. Put it this way: Garbine without all that power would still be dangerous because of her groundstroke placement. She’d be crafty. Instead, she plays crafty tennis, with weighty and pacy strokes. That’s a lot to go up against for even the best WTA stars out there.
Because of this combination, Muguruza doesn’t just win by blitzing by her opponents with winners. She wins by mercilessly deconstructing her opponent’s game until they look terrible and utterly demoralized. Where do you think Muguruthless came from? If there is anything stopping Muguruza from complete dominance of the women’s game – other than an in-form Serena – it would be her mind. You know when Muguruza has come out to play. She oozes determination. You can hear it in her uhhhhh grunt and the pop of her swings. You see it in her focused trancelike gaze and you feel it in the intensity she radiates in that moment. Then in other matches, Muguruza is hardly there. Her natural gifts will always keep a match competitive but when she’s mentally checked out, her movement becomes a bit sluggish and her placement or even choice of shots goes south. She descends from her own stratospheric heights of play and becomes normal. Normal is beatable.
Granted it takes intensity for a player to show up for every single match, every single day. That’s the standard Serena’s set over the last few years and on the men’s side, it is the standard the big four have set for so long. Is it a standard Muguruza can match? I don’t think so. I think she’s too laid back a person to stay in that mentally ruthless zone for so long. What we can expect from Muguruza, is for her to switch on and switch off over the course of the season. While she pulled out of Brisbane with leg cramps, it is probably nothing too serious.
Let’s hope she’s on for Australia.