French Open 2016 Final Preview: Serena Williams v Garbiñe Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza

After a dicey and damp second week, the final of the 2016 French Open is all set and will be a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon final between the number one seed, Serena Williams and the number four seed, Garbiñe Muguruza.

For Muguruza, her form at this tournament in recent years has been a pre-cursor to her run in 2016 with consecutive quarter-final appearances in 2014 and 2015. Muguruza’s campaign this year began in shaky fashion, dropping a set (and her only set!) to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round. While a decent clay courter on her day, it was the first set that Schmiedlova had won on the WTA tour since January. Since then, Muguruza has rolled through the draw without dropping a set.

In the semi-finals, Muguruza overcame a few late jitters to book her place in the final with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Sam Stosur. Muguruza was powerful on return with Stosur’s serve more often than not landing in her hitting zone. Muguruza’s deep, penetrative groundstrokes were too much for Stosur to handle. There was a late wobble as the Spaniard failed to serve out the match at 5-2 in the second set and then served a double fault to go to *5-4 *15-30 when serving it out for the second time. Muguruza got the serve going though to finish it off. On the whole, it was another excellent display from the Spaniard whose results continue to improve in 2016… a Slam final ain’t too shabby!

Serena was on the verge of dropping her second set of the tournament in the semi-finals but just about hung on to defeat one of the stars of this year’s tournament, Kiki Bertens in a tight two setter, 7-6(7) 6-4. Both players looked to be struggling with respective injuries; although it was Bertens’s calf injury that got more coverage before the match, Serena’s movement was extremely laboured early on. The world number one though showed her champion qualities to save two set points (one at *3-5 *30-40 and a second one at 6-7* in the tiebreak). Bertens really had her chances and that first set was crucial…

This is a fascinating finale and I can see it from both sides as to who will prevail. Muguruza has played the more convincing tennis in the last two rounds but you can never write off Serena, even after her somewhat shaky displays in the last two rounds. The best example is last year’s Roland Garros where she was clearly ill and SOMEHOW managed to claw her way through a number of tight three setters. Muguruza though has the weapons to hurt Serena, as she pointed out in a 6-2 6-2 dismantling at this very tournament in 2014 where she pinned the American behind the baseline with exceptional central depth on her groundstrokes.

I have some slight reservations about Muguruza and her nerves; they have shown signs of bubbling over at times but she has managed to suppress them so far in closing out the wins against Kuznetsova and Stosur. I’m intrigued to see how she deals with them if she does get into a winning position. I’ve had a great feeling though about Mugsy for this tournament since the off-season. This was actually my final (lo and behold, a correct prediction!) pre-tournament and I was quite confident about it. The struggle I had was choosing between Serena and Garbi as champ. While I lost my nerve in my pre-tourny predictions (Sveta in R4!), i’m inclined to give Muguruza the nod in this one and I believe she has what it takes to win a first Slam title. In the back of my mind though… HOW can you write off Serena?!

I’ve missed so much of this tournament and have felt rather detached having been holiday so i’m REALLY looking forward to watching both finals this weekend (sticking with Djokovic in the mens).  Sorry for the rather muted coverage of Roland Garros this year but thanks for sticking with the blog and for all the comments. I haven’t had time to respond but i’ve been reading them all :-). I’m going all out with the coverage of the UK grass court season so please stick around and spread the word if you like what I do. I will be sharing plenty of photos from both Eastbourne and Wimbledon, and i’ll be kicking off the coverage with Nottingham next week…. it’s my favourite time of the year and i’m going to savour it!

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

19 thoughts on “French Open 2016 Final Preview: Serena Williams v Garbiñe Muguruza

  1. Despite her big scares against Mladenovic, Putintseva, and Bertens, Serena still looks solid to me. Her adductor injury only showed in the beginning. But, she probably didn’t want to put too much pressure on her body, especially when she’s going for history to try to claim her 22nd Grand Slam title. Muguruza also has a big serve and was shown to push Serena on two occasions last year. While both players have served 23 aces, Muguruza has served twice as many double faults as Serena. Even though Muguruza will put up a good fight, I’m going for Serena to prevail in two tight sets.

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  2. Interesting stat,if Serena wins Roland Garos and joins Graf with 22 Grand Slam Titles,Serena would also join Graf as the only players,WTA or ATP to win each of the four Grand Slams at least four times.

    I picked Serena at the start of the tournament,not changing my pick now.Serena Williams to tie with Graf with 22 Grand Slam Titles.

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  3. I think Serena will be really fired up. This isn’t like she’s going up against Kerber or Safarova. She knows Garbine is hungry and very deadly. I’ve been super impressed by how calm and positive she’s remained this tournament even when parts of her game haven’t worked.

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    • Yes I agree actually, after that FO match from 2014, Serena will always be fired up in this match-up and never underestimate Muguruza. It should be a great final, i’m really looking forward to it!

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  4. More experience, more aware of head-to-head, cleaner serve = Serena. I pick Serena to win the tournament. Even though one website (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2644099-french-open-2016-womens-final-serena-williams-vs-garbine-muguruza-predictions) did predict Muguruza in three sets, I feel that Muguruza is going to have to cut down on the double faults if she wants to beat Serena. Serena did the right thing and got treated for her injury immediately. She will be able to get to 22.

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  5. Serena CAN AND WILL get to #22 here in Paris. Coach Patrick Mouratoglou already knows that she’ll raise her game against Muguruza

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    • I’ve got a feeling that Mohammed Ali’s death is going to make a difference to the result, one way or another, as I believe Serena will be deeply affected by it one way or another; Ali was not only one of the all time great black sportspeople but also a national icon.

      I’d be surprised if it doesn’t spur her on to play the match of her life. Sorry Garbi, but Serena in 2 sets.

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  6. What do you think for the doubles finals?
    No matter what the result, Garcia and Mladenovic will be the second top ranked doubles team behind Santania. I’d really love to see them win though. I reckon they’ll do well on grass too.

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    • I had them as winners from the start, this I knew they could and would do in spite of the home favourite pressure. Ekatarina and Vesnina could make this very interesting and competitive since they are a seasoned and wily pair, been there and done that.

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    • Really pleased to see Garcia and Mladenovic in the final, loved their celebrations with the crowd! I’d like to see them win, really could go either way the final.

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      • Yeah they were a bit tense at times in the semi finals. And this is their first final together whereas obviously Makarova and Vesnina have been doing this for so long now.

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  7. Serena had to play 4 games back to back on top of an injured leg. I hope she can win. Gabine has plenty of time to win majors.

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  8. Congrats to Garbine winning your first major,you played deep,aggressive tennis and deserved your win in straight sets over Serena…..Vamos Garbine,this win takes Garbine to no 2 player in the world

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  9. ‘i’m inclined to give Muguruza the nod in this one and I believe she has what it takes to win a first Slam title. In the back of my mind though… HOW can you write off Serena?!’

    MOOtennis finally gets it right!

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