Pressure is a wonderful thing. It is something that can make or break the careers of many professional tennis players striving to either make the next jump to the highest level of our sport, or top-tier players simply aiming to stay at the very top. Pressure is something that Garbine Muguruza has had to deal with–be it competing for her first title, competing in her first Grand Slam, representing her country, and playing in Grand Slam finals. The Spaniard has virtually done it all at the age of 24.
Muguruza dealt with a different kind of pressure this week in Monterrey, and that was the intense pressure of being triumphant in a tournament as the No. 1 seed and as the heavy favourite, but she passed the test and came through while only dropping one set all week. The Spaniard beat Mexican wild card Renata Zarazua in 47 minutes in the first round, overcame Alison Riske, Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, and Ana Bogdan, before beating 2012 Monterrey champion Timea Babos in the final.
For some it may seem like quite an underwhelming, ordinary achievement to win an International tournament in an event that many expect you to win, but Muguruza has not always adjusted to life at the very top with all the expectations and with all eyes on her with the greatest of comfort, so winning this week will be vital going into an important clay court season.
The International tournaments like Monterrey require a different mindset, a champion’s mindset. To pick yourself up and to remain motivated for these events are what encourage consistency throughout the whole of the season, and Muguruza has now made a statement in the sense that she has delivered on the lower levels of women’s tennis when many had grown accustomed to the Spaniard hitting the jackpot at Grand Slam events, with two of her six titles coming at Majors.
Muguruza will be relieved to get that title win, her first title win of the season, leading into the clay season where her expectations will be high. The hard court swing was rocky and shaky for the former World No. 1, but she recognises that although there is room for improvement and chances that were missed, she knows what she is capable of on all surfaces, which must fill Muguruza with a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.
The Monterrey title can definitely be used as a stepping stone to greater success. We saw one-sided, brutal matches from Muguruza for a lot of the week, but what we also witnessed towards the end of the tournament was her ability to fight adversity. She was a set and a break down to Timea Babos in the final and looked down and out, but found a way to win and dug deep to ensure she took her sixth career title. That means something and can be significant for the remainder of the season. We know Muguruza can play great tennis, but we also needed to see more often was her ability to come through when she’s not playing great tennis and she did just that in Monterrey in the final.
Another reason why the Monterrey win is vital is because Muguruza did not want to be going into the clay season chasing results and chasing ranking points. She now gets points onto the board and wins under her belt, which in truth she was very short of, so that alleviates some of the pressure for the beginning of the clay season. It definitely does not eliminate all the pressure–the pressure is always there–but it definitely decreases the need for match wins so early on in the clay season, which should help Muguruza be patient over the red clay journey.
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