Monday, January 30

Garbiñe Muguruza, a unique teacher in history



Actually, she said so, she was never gone. Tennis was there. And when you are up once you know that you can be up again, “he said. That’s how it is. Garbiñe Muguruza She reigns supreme on the tennis planet, this time as a teacher after an impeccable week in which she dispelled the doubts of the beginning and ended with confetti, overflowing the smile that lit up with the reflection in the Teachers’ Cup. First Spanish to achieve it. Muguruza adds a line to the history of national tennis.

In the last six years of this elite tournament that reached its fiftieth edition in 2021 (it was not held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic), six names have been carved into the trophy.

None as old as Muguruza, 28 years old full of energy as he showed this week, especially lucid his qualifying matches, contra Anett Kontaveit, the semifinal against Paula Badosa and this final to remember against the Estonian again, whom she dislodged from all sides even when the scoreboard, both in the first set and in the second, lit up to the opposite side.

This knowing how to be, superior, patient, concentrated, effective, champion, is not the result of this week, but of a course, or even two, of evolution. Actually, it is the fruit of all these years of Muguruza on the track, as growth comes both in Grand Slam finals with just 21 years (Wimbledon 2015), and with bites in Roland Garros (2016) and Wimbledon (2017) and, almost above all, with irregularities, shadows, dips in intensity, also injuries. It was hard to find that regularity, always in a hurry to savor another magical moment on center court and losing sight of the fact that those only come fighting on the outside courts. From April 9, 2019 to March 14, 2021, there were more than 700 days without prizes, a journey that was too long and with many mental traps for his tennis, his class, his ambition. Also many lessons to grow and complete, because the game, however, was always there.

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“People may think now, ‘Look, Muguruza is back’, but in the last two years I have not been playing bad. I’ve always felt like I had tennis. He always believed he could get back to the big rounds. I just had to prove it, “he said. In 2020 he was planted in the final of the Australian Open, only Sofia Kenin (4-6, 6-2 and 6-2) left her without a prize. Then it was the pandemic that cut the projection. It is true that the big stages have been elusive, without reaching the quarterfinals in any of the Grand Slams. But the cards of his tennis showed firmness and serenity for future magic tricks. Already in 2021, he wanted to return to that inertia, although injuries also frustrated his regularity in the middle of the season, with that ankle that gave him the can. And yet: «I have had the year with the most finals (five) and with the most titles of my career (three: Dubai, Chicago, Teachers Cup). Yes, it is my best season », she stated sincerely.

Also, his words lengthened from what his face reflected, the happiest. «It has been a complicated course, with ups and downs, with injuries. But I am a calmer Muguruza, less complaining ». And then he delved into what this return to the top of tennis entails. «It is an evolution. Now i’m a Garbiñe more composed, with more years and experience and perspective to bear the good times and the bad. This week has been an example, I don’t think I would have achieved it before ».

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This week is the reflection of these three courses of stopping, lying on the couch and greening up to its full potential. He started the tournament with doubts, too many ghosts in his head because a hard group had played him, with a disadvantage in the face to face with the rivals. But I have held on strong. I have shown myself that I can. He had to tell me ‘you wanted to be here, be calm, stop complaining’. Hold on to the little opportunities you have. I have always been thinking positive. And I did it”. After start with defeat in the tournament, He met the goal: eight consecutive sets subject to a brilliant plan: aggressiveness, angles, heights and, above all, concentration and calm. Do not get out of the way. So in the week as in the final. So in the tournament as in the year. Do not get out of what motivates you the most. «It’s nice to be up [como número 1], but it’s that feeling of taking the trophy that makes me more ambitious. That feeling that you’ve done it is the best.

Hence, he aims for everything because he has everything to achieve what he already knows he can, because he has already been there and is there again. It will be, from next monday, world 3, number which had not been tread since July 2018. «It is the reward for a long year and the reward that we are working in the right direction. It’s a great position for 2022. It’s the trophies that motivate me the most. This I don’t know what level to put it at, it’s the Masters, it’s special, like a Grand Slam. There are still some great titles that I am missing », predicts or threatens, depending on who reads it.

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It has been shown that he can go back to where he wants and even step on unfamiliar terrain. That nothing and nobody matters if you combine head, hunger and tennis. And everything is in its place. Once the title of teacher has been conquered, there are challenges to continue recreating history. Reached the peaks of Roland Garros and Wimbledon, only Arantxa Sánchez Vicario won the US Open in 1994, and Muguruza already knows what it is like to surpass those tremendous marks of the Catalan. No Spanish has won the Australian Open. She almost did it in 2020. But that will be in 2022. Now … “You are going to see me doing nothing, on a deck chair.”

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