The fourth and final Premier Mandatory tournament of 2015 concluded on Sunday with Garbiñe Muguruza winning her biggest career title to date, coming from a break down in both sets to beat Timea Bacsinszky, 7-5 6-4. When I was looking at the title stats yesterday prior to the final, it slipped my mind that Muguruza had previously only ever won ONE WTA title in Hobart. Beijing is a big deal for the Spaniard and after a disappointing US hard court season, she has rebounded superbly in Asia as the form player. The final was reasonable in terms of quality; the first set was a little scrappy but things picked up in the second set.
Bacsinszky was the more stable player early on and quickly went up 5-2. Muguruza was struggling for pace on the serve, perhaps linked to the strapping on her leg, and dropped her first three service games. Stepping up to serve for the first set, Bacsinszky played a poor game. Muguruza got a couple of deep returns in and Bacsinszky’s forehand began to leak errors. Muguruza fought back, playing much steadier herself, to win five consecutive games and take the opening set, 7-5.
Bacsinszky didn’t handle leads at all well in this match as she lost an early break in the first set. The pair played their best tennis in middle of the second set with both looking commanding on serve after a break-happy first set. Bacsinszky though, crumbled a little at 4-4 30-30, throwing in a double fault and unforced error to give Muguruza the opportunity to serve for the title. Muguruza, who has looked wobbly at times serving out sets and matches, faced few problems this time round with Bacsinszky unable to conjure up much resistance.
I feel this match-up favours Muguruza and this match was slightly reminiscent of their last encounter at Wimbledon. Bacsinszky had the edge in the first set at SW19 but couldn’t take advantage of her openings with Muguruza winning the big points. The same kind of happened in Beijing with Bacsinszky stuttering when she tried to serve out the first set.
For Bacsinszky, this has still been a fabulous week and she will now crack the world’s top ten. The Swiss player had been on a barren run of form during the summer but she turned it around in style. It’s always favourable to end the year on a high! Her speech was lovely as she spoke about how she considered retirement a few years ago and how her coach has helped her immensely. It’s such a great story and I love Timea’s warm personality. She couldn’t stop talking in the trophy ceremony!
Muguruza is in the draw for Hong Kong next week but SURELY she will pull out! She’s qualified for Singapore, which is just two weeks away. Muguruza is also just one point off Maria Sharapova in the rankings.
I find Muguruza’s top four ranking astonishing because she hasn’t had a consistent year with spells of poor form between Dubai and the French Open, and then Wimbledon and Wuhan. However she’s peaked at the tournaments that really matter. Although next year will be tough to back it all up, I think she can do it. Bacsinszky reportedly tried to get a wildcard for Linz but was refused. This ends her plight for Singapore but she will no doubt qualify for Zhuhai the week after. I’m fascinated to see whether the players who qualify for Zhuhai will actually play it because it has the potential to be a captivating tournament if the players commit to the event. I have a fear though there will be many withdrawals and retirements…