The Spaniard feels good about her game and her mentality in 2020, and it shows.
Even on her bad years – and that’s a relative term – Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza always shows up and plays well at Roland Garros. The 2016 champion will bid for her seventh straight appearance in the second week on Saturday when she meets American Danielle Collins, and she owns a 29-6 lifetime record in Paris.
But this year feels like Muguruza can do more than show up and play well. She really could win the trophy.
Having already reached the Australian Open final, and being in possession of a 23-6 record on the season, Muguruza has proven time and time again that she’s no longer a step or two from her best form, she’s an athlete that is very much at her best level. That’s saying a lot for a two-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.1, but the on-court product, and the level of belief and fighting spirit that she shows is the real indication that what happened in Australia was no fluke.
The old Garbiñe’s back and Paris better look out.
Speaking to reporters after her 6-3, 6-2 victory over Kristyna Pliskova, Muguruza opened up about why she feels she has been able to improve in 2020.
“I think my game has improved,” she said. “I feel like my tennis was there, and it's here. I feel like I am better mentally prepared. I think I did a good job trying to put things together, solve some stuff, see more clearly some other things, just in general a little bit more in perspective.”
Muguruza, who began a second run with Spanish legend Conchita Martinez coaching her this season, says that the hard work makes a difference as well.
“It was a big change finishing in 2019, and starting in 2020 I just felt, okay, that year's going to be different and, yeah, I feel different on the court. I don't think I'm a different player, but I feel like harder, I feel stronger out there.”
Muguruza, seeded 11th in Paris, says she has a clearer head as well. It makes sense. It was hard not to notice that her relationship with former coach Sam Sumyk was too tumultuous. It may have been productive at times, and results certainly indicate that, but it also may have sent Muguruza’s mind racing.
She seems to be in the perfect mental place now, and that wasn’t the case at all over the last four season. After winning her second major at Wimbledon in 2017, Muguruza went relatively flat at the Slams for quite some time. She reached one semifinal at Roland Garros in 2018, but failed to hit the quarterfinals at the majors on eight other occasions.
That changed this winter with her performance at the Australian Open, and the trend looks set to continue here at Roland Garros.
Today in press she cited what she felt was the difference.
“I try to solve things faster,” she said. “I feel like before I probably got stuck in some wrong moments or situations or thoughts too long. That's one example. There's so many things. I honestly don't want to share too much of this because I feel like it's very personal.
“But an example is just finding solutions quickly, have a better disposition to be not in your comfort zone. Little things like that that you just have to, okay, take a little bit easier and have a better mindset when you're not feeling great. So I think that's already a big change.”