There is no point in sugarcoating the harsh reality: Garbiñe Muguruza completed an atrocious 2019 season by her standards. The two-time Grand Slam champion checked in at No. 36 in the WTA year-end rankings, far and away her lowest spot since 2013, when she first broke into the Top 100.
According to Pedro Hernández, 2019 marks the first time in 31 years that no Spanish player finished a campaign inside the WTA Top 35. It’s not surprising that age and injuries are catching up with former No. 6 Carla Suárez or that youngsters Sara Sorribes Tormo and Paula Badosa are not ready for prime time yet. Nevertheless, the fact an all-world talent like Muguruza may not be seeded at the Australian Open is unfathomable.
Garbiñe Muguruza in 2019
The Spaniard was never a paradigm of consistency. Over the course of her career, she often combined tremendous wins with head-scratching losses. However, in the end, the highs ended up outweighing the lows. That was not the case in 2019. The downward spiral was so pronounced that Muguruza decided to split with her long standing coach Sam Sumyk after Wimbledon.
Overall, the 26-year-old posted a 23-19 record in 2019, including Hopman Cup and Fed Cup. If we narrow it down to countable events, Muguruza registered a 22-15 mark, including an awful 1-6 record after Roland Garros.
While Muguruza’s substandard form deserves criticism, the former No. 1 merits some praise for defending her Monterrey crown in 2019. Sure, a WTA International pales in comparison with the trophies she won between 2015 and 2017 (Beijing, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, Cincinnati), but a title is a title. Indeed, with her triumph in Monterrey, Muguruza extended her streak of consecutive years winning at least a title. It’s up to six now.
The Caracas native strung together five wins in a row in Mexico over Elena-Gabriela Ruse, Margarita Gasparyan, Kristina Mladenovic, Magdalena Rybarikova and Victoria Azarenka, who retired when she was trailing 6-1 3-1 in the final.
Not all defeats taste the same
If there is a Major where big names are prone to be upset early on, it is Wimbledon. To name a few, we’ve seen Steve Darcis, Sergiy Stakhovsky, or Eleni Daniilidou score massive scalps over Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Justine Henin. Still, Muguruza’s 6-4 6-4 loss to No. 121 Beatriz Haddad Maia stung. The 2017 champion was never in control of the situation against the Brazilian.
Besides, the Fed Cup tie against Belgium in late April was also disappointing. Even though she partnered with Suárez Navarro to win the decisive doubles point, Muguruza had previously lost a pair of singles matches to No. 59 Kirsten Flipkens and to No. 122 Ysaline Bonaventure. If she ever wants to return to the Top 10, she cannot afford this sort of losses.
Whoever lands the coaching gig faces big challenge in 2020
Regardless of how underwhelming her results were during the second half of the season, Muguruza has not forgotten how to obliterate tennis balls. As her 3-5 record against Top 10 attests, her major-winning self may show up on any given match. Sure, far from impressive, but Alexander Zverev qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals despite a 1-5 mark versus Top 10 foes.
Tennis Abstract’s ELO algorithm believes Muguruza is currently the 23rd best player in the world; thus, quite under ranked at No. 36.
It is still unclear who will sit in her coaching box next season. Will Muguruza extend her partnership with Anabel Medina? Could Conchita Martínez, who’s not working with Karolina Pliskova anymore, be interested in righting the ship? Or is it time to give Sascha Bajin a call?
No matter whom the Spanish star picks as her tour companion, she needs a fresh start. Being consistently inconsistent is not an option if Garbiñe Muguruza wants to regain her Top 10 status.