The former world number two Garbiñe Muguruza has fallen out of the top ten as she failed to defend her French Open title. The Spaniard lost to France's Kristina Mladenovic in a three-set thriller in the fourth round. Moreover, Muguruza is pleased to be off her favored clay courts. She returns to grass courts, ahead of Wimbledon, where she will be looking to reach her second final in three years. The results have improved significantly at this stage of the season. Compared to last year's and, it will be interesting to see how the 23-year-old will respond on grass.
Notable results to date
The current world number 14 has a 20-11 win-loss record in 2017, and she hasn't reached a final since winning the French Open last year. Nevertheless, Muguruza's results have improved as she only reached three semifinals in 2016. The Spaniard had a relatively good start to the year in Brisbane by reaching the semifinals but she retired in her clash with Alize Cornet. The hard-hitting Spaniard advanced to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open for the first time in her career. She dispatched Marina Erakovic, Samantha Crawford, Anastasija Sevastova, who defeated her at the US Open last year and a resurgent Sorana Cirstea along the way. Unfortunately, she was no match for Coco Vandeweghe who blew her off the court with the loss of just four games.
The 2015 Wimbledon runner-up's results at the back-to-back Premier Mandatory North American hard court events in Indian Wells and Miami were respectable but a player of Muguruza's caliber would be expecting to go further. She showed her fighting qualities in her three matches. Kirsten Flipkens, Kayla Day and Elina Svitolina were credible opponents for the Spaniard. However, she lost to Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals in two tiebreak sets for the sixth time in seven meetings. The former French Open champion backed up her quarterfinal run in the Californian Desert at the Miami Open. She recovered from a set down on both occasions to defeat Christina McHale and Zhang Shuai. But for the third time this season, injury intervened, and she had to retire from her fourth round encounter with Caroline Wozniacki.
Muguruza's clay court campaign was mediocre, which was disappointing for one of the best clay courters in the world. She suffered a three-set defeat at the hands of Anett Kontaveit in her first clay court match of the year at the Premier event in Stuttgart. She lost in the first round for the second successive event at the Mutua Madrid Open, where she has always struggled due to the conditions being at altitude, and the pressures of playing in front of a home crowd.
Two-time French Open semifinalist Timea Bacsinszky got the better of her in straight sets in emphatic fashion. However, Muguruza's fortunes improved at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. Rome was the launchpad for her French Open success last year. The Spaniard defeated her French Open successor Jelena Ostapenko, Julia Goerges and Venus Williams in a three-set thriller to reach the semifinals for the second consecutive year. She retired for the fourth time this year losing to eventual champion Elina Svitolina in the semifinals.
It was now time for Muguruza to return to the French Open, where she was defending a Grand Slam singles title for the first time in her career. She had a tough first round clash with 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone but the Spaniard came through that match unscathed in straight sets. Muguruza's nightmare draw continued at the French Open in the second round, where she had to fight back against Kontaveit, who defeated her in Stuttgart. Nonetheless, the former world number two's title defense continued, and in the third round, she dispatched last year's quarterfinalist Yulia Putintseva in straight sets. The Spaniard was unable to make the quarterfinals for the fourth successive year as she lost to Mladenovic in the fourth round on Court Suzanne Lenglen. It was a hostile atmosphere for the fallen champion as she was booed when she walked off the court, and she wiggled her finger at the crowd.
Grass results leading up to Wimbledon
After a relatively earlier exit as expected for the former French Open champion, Muguruza took a few days off to recuperate, and she began her preparations for Wimbledon by practicing on grass courts for a few days. The Spaniard opted to participate at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham. Muguruza advanced to her fourth semifinal of the year, and first on grass since reaching the final at Wimbledon two years ago. She defeated Elizaveta Kulichkova, Alison Riske, and Coco Vandeweghe before she lost to Ashleigh Barty in a three-set match in the semifinals. Muguruza will be looking to continue her preparations ahead of Wimbledon at another Premier-level event at the Aegon International in Eastbourne. The former world number two will have to adjust to the conditions in Eastbourne as it is windier than Birmingham, and Wimbledon.
Best Wimbledon result
Muguruza's best result at Wimbledon was when she reached the final in 2015. It was a memorable moment for the 23-year-old as the grass was considered to be her weakest surface at the time, as she only won a handful of matches on grass. Grass suits her game perfectly, and reaching the final in 2015 was a good result for Muguruza.
The hard-hitting Spaniard born in Venezuela entered the 2015 Wimbledon Championships as the 20th seed. She recorded victories against the likes of Varvara Lepchenko, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki to reach the quarterfinals at SW19 for the first time. Muguruza's mentality was immense as she defeated Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets in the quarterfinals and against 2012 finalist Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets to advance to her first Slam final. Unfortunately, Muguruza was unable to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish as she lost to Serena Williams, 6-4, 6-4 but she would gain her revenge a year later, at the French Open, when she defeated Williams in straight sets to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.
Unfortunately for Muguruza, she was unable to back up her dream run to the Wimbledon final last year as she defeated Camila Giorgi in three sets in the first round but lost to giant-killer Jana Cepelova in the second round.
How Muguruza's game translates to Grass
Muguruza historically struggled to adapt to grass as you need to be able to deal with the low bounces and the trajectory of the ball. You also don't get enough time on the ball to strike, like you have to time on clay to build up your points. Nonetheless, the 23-year-old has improved on all aspects of her game. Her movement and serve have improved significantly which has made her a dangerous player on the WTA Tour.
Grass suits big servers and hard-hitters of the ball as 15 of the last 17 champions at Wimbledon have had those attributes. The Williams sisters, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova, have all thrived on the lawns of Wimbledon over the years. They possess those qualities of those aspects of their game. The problem for Muguruza, is mentality, she falls away in some matches that she should win, and it is quite baffling that she hasn't managed to reach a WTA final since winning last year's French Open. Nevertheless, Muguruza is looking to reassert her authority on the WTA tour at Wimbledon, and she is certainly one player, who could add the Venus Rosewater Dish to her Grand Slam collection.