Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza knows what it feels like to be on top of the tennis world. Now she is learning to accept that she can’t always stay there and is trying to focus more on the journey than the destination.
This time last year, Muguruza entered the Wuhan Open as the world No. 1, thanks to titles runs at Wimbledon and Cincinnati earlier in the season.
Twelve months on, the Spaniard is ranked 14 in the world, 15 in the Race to Singapore, and without any back-to-back wins since Roland Garros early June.
As she continues her search for consistency and form, Muguruza admits keeping things in perspective has been a tricky endeavour for her.
“When you have won big and you have big goals, it’s always tough to not get them when you work hard,” said Muguruza after her first round win over her Wimbledon conqueror Alison van Uytvanck in Wuhan on Monday.
“You cannot have it all the time. I know it’s a process. At some point you cannot be constantly there. Sometimes you just have to stay humble, start from zero, start basic, not have too many expectations.”
Asked if she has got better at keeping such a levelheaded perspective, Muguruza said: “Yes. Before I would get a little more upset. Not upset, but more dramatic over the situation, maybe when I lose or what’s happening and stuff. This year I know could happen.
“I’m just taking a little bit more distance, not worrying. I know that I have the talent, and I know that I’ve played well. I know it will happen again if I still work hard.”
Van Uytvanck was the player responsible for ending Muguruza’s title defence in the second round at Wimbledon in July. On Monday at the Wuhan Open, Muguruza was pleased to avenge that defeat.
“I’m happy. I think I played a good match in general. I think my intensity and my concentration on every single point was there,” said Muguruza, who turns 25 in two weeks’ time.
“She’s a very talented player. I’m happy that I won this time. I remember the match from Wimbledon, like a very tough match for me. Was very different circumstances there, and surface of course. Yeah, it’s always good to play again the same person that beat you, and feeling good you did something much better than the previous match.”
Unfortunately, comparing performances is not always a good thing for Muguruza. She knows her 2018 season pales in comparison to her previous two but insists she can still look positively on what she’s done this year.
“The problem is that everything is just comparing to what it has been before. Of course, having such a great year last year, everything this year seems like not as good. But obviously I had the best year of my career the previous year. This year is different. I didn’t have, for sure, the best results. I did play well here and there sometimes. Yeah, struggle a little bit to maintain some regularity into the tournaments, for whatever reason, pain, not playing well and stuff,” explained Muguruza, whose North American summer was plagued by a right arm injury.
“But I think I still have few more tournaments to play. It’s not the best year of the previous years that I had, but it is not a bad year for me. It’s just a process. I’m just keeping playing, that’s it.”
Muguruza is mathematically still in contention to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore although she is 1,099 points off the top-eight cutoff and will need other results to fall in her favour while also going deep in Wuhan and Beijing.
She says she’s not keeping track of the points and the Race rankings this year since her chances seem slim but would love to make Singapore nonetheless.
The Venezuelan-born Spaniard has been donning a sleeve on her right arm during matches this Asian swing and explained her decision behind using it.
“I actually like it. A lot of players ask me if it’s just to be beautiful to the outfit. I actually like it. It helped me through the training. It’s not something that I would not wear for the future, but for now it has been helping me,” said Muguruza, who next plays Swiss qualifier Viktorija Golubic in the Wuhan second round.
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