The Spaniard should be the WTA`s next Grand Slam champion, but can she learn patience?
Fresh, young, Slam-winning faces have become the exception, rather than the rule, on both tours. This 22-year-old Spaniard, who rocketed from No. 21 at the start of 2015 to No. 3 by the end of it, may be ready to reverse that trend in 2016.
Muguruza has certainly staked her claim to be the most likely to break through. By reaching the Wimbledon final and the semifinals at the year-end championships (with a 3–0 record in round-robin play), she has shown that she can play on the game’s biggest stages. By recording a win over Serena Williams at the 2014 French Open, she has shown that she can beat the game’s best players. And during the fall, with new coach Sam Sumyk by her side, she seemed to become a better, smarter, more stubborn competitor by the day. The stars—or, if you prefer, the strings—are aligning for Muguruza.
Most promising of all may be Muguruza’s body type and playing style. A long-limbed 6-footer, she plays an all-in, high-risk, attacking game. That means she has her dry spells; after reaching the Wimbledon final, Muguruza went into a two-month tailspin before recovering. But the recent history of the women’s game says that might makes right over two weeks at a Slam. Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Li Na: Those are the players who have won multiple Grand Slam titles, and Muguruza hits the ball a lot like they do.
Best Case Scenario
She’s ranked No. 3, which will guarantee her good draws. She’s already been to a major final, and she’s not afraid of the tour’s top players. While Muguruza still has her ups and downs, she now has Sumyk, who helped Azarenka to two Aussie Open titles, to guide her through them.
Worst Case Scenario
This decade has been littered with players who ended one year seemingly ready to challenge Serena, only to find out that they weren’t. Li, Kvitova, Azarenka and Simona Halep have all taken their turn near the top of the rankings, and so far Serena has left them all by the side of the road. Why would Muguruza be any different?
She’s always had the power; now she’s learning the patience. The combination should make her the WTA’s next new Grand Slam champion.
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