Garbine Muguruza, the talented, 21-year-old Spaniard, has continued to impress since she upset Serena Williams in the second round at last year’s French Open. Unquestionably, she is a player to watch in 2015. Six-feet-tall with a two-handed backhand, Muguruza plays an aggressive game effectively employing her powerful groundstrokes and serve.
Though her favorite surface is hardcourts, Garbine unequivocally excels on clay having comprehensively defeated Serena 6-2, 6-2 last year at Roland Garros. It’s no surprise, given her devastating serve, that her two favorite players growing up were Serena Williams and Pete Sampras.
Currently ranked number twenty-four in the world in singles and sixteen in doubles, Garbine won her first and thus far only WTA tour title last year at the Moorilla Hobart International. She reached her second career final at the 2014 Brasil Tennis Cup, losing to Klara Zakopalova in three sets despite being up a set and leading 5-2 in the second.
Certainly, the highlight of her 2014 season was the straight sets victory over world number one and defending champion, Serena Williams, in the second round of the French Open. At age twenty, Garbine would make her first Grand Slam quarter-final where she took a set off-eventual French Open champion, Maria Sharapova.
Consistently playing doubles on all surfaces appears to be a strategy geared towards enhancing her movement and net play. She would reach the final of the Mutua Madrid Open, win the Bank of the West Classic and qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals with her frequent partner, Carla Suarez Navarro.
Her power-game is well suited to grass as was evident at the 2014 Topshelf Open where she reached the quarters before losing to Coco Vandeweghe despite being up 5-2 in the first set. Though seeded 27th at Wimbledon, Muguruza was upset by Vandeweghe in the first round in three sets.
Her 2014 hardcourt season began at the Bank of West Classic in Stanford, California. She would defeat the sixth seed and defending champion Dominika Cibulkova in three sets before losing in the quarter-finals to the third seed, Angelique Kerber.
At the 2014 US Open, Muguruza the 25th seed, was upset in the first round by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, the thirty-two year old former prodigy and top thirty player. She rebounded nicely from this loss with a semi-final appearance at the Toray Pan Pacific Open defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Jelena Jankovic and Casey Dellacqua before falling in three sets to the second seed and eventual finalist, Caroline Wozniacki.
At the inaugural edition of the Wuhan Open, Muguruza reached the third round having defeated then world number 2 Simona Halep before retiring from the tournament with gastritis. Muguruza would conclude the season at the WTA Tournament of Champions in Sofia, Bulgaria. Although undefeated in round robin competition with wins over Flavia Pennetta, Alize Cornet and top seed Ekaterina Makarova, Garbine lost in the semis to eventual champion Andrea Petkovic.
As a result of her consistent play and notable wins over top ten opponents, Garbine achieved a career high ranking of 20 in the world in November 2014.
Muguruza would have another win over a top ten player at the 2015 Apia International in Sydney, Austrlia. She defeated Agnieszka Radwanksa, then world number six, in three sets in the second round before losing to Angelique Kerber in three the following round.
At the 2015 Australian Open, Garbine would progress to the fourth round before battling world number one and five time Australian Open champion, Serena Williams. It was payback for Serena; Muguruza went down in three sets, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The season, like Muguruza, has only just begun.
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