Garbiñe Muguruza, 2016 French Open Champ!

Muguruza

Take a bow, Garbiñe Muguruza. For the third Slam in a row, we have a new champion! Muguruza produced a sensational display to defeat the world number one, Serena Williams, 7-5 6-4 to win the 2016 French Open. It was a high-quality final with some thunderous hitting. The first set was one of the best of the entire year so far and a ray of sunshine in an otherwise damp and dreary tournament in Paris.

Where Serena’s performance level often attracts many of the talking points, in my opinion, this result was largely about Muguruza. The Spaniard produced some exceptional hitting from the baseline… it was incredible how she managed to outhit Serena in many of the rallies, particularly towards the end of the first set and into the second set. I mean, Serena didn’t play a bad match at all. She would have won the first set against many other players but Muguruza produced a tremendous level.

I was also really impressed with how Muguruza kept everything together and was mentally strong. We’ve seen some wobbles before, even in the last round against Sam Stosur where she failed to serve out the match at the first time of asking. Muguruza held with scoreboard pressure at *4-5 in the first set and managed to serve out the first set, saving two break points from *15-40 down and eventually sealing it on her third set point with a blistering backhand winner.

Muguruza played a poor game having quickly gone up a break in the second set. She had a *30-0 lead but ended up double faulting down break point… it was a rare moment because Muguruza was largely clutch on the big points. Muguruza though, continued to be lethal from the baseline and went up a break once more.

As Serena kept holding and her noise level began to rise sharply, I was sat there waiting for a stutter from Muguruza… but it never really came. In a fabulously thrilling end to the match, Serena saved four Championship points to force Muguruza to serve it out at 7-5 *5-4. For sure, I expected Muguruza to buckle under the immense pressure. I was shaking so I couldn’t imagine what she was feeling! Muguruza showed what a champ she is with the way she served it out… and that Championship point! It had a slightly anticlimactic feeling as Muguruza realised the lob was in but wow, what an incredible shot to win it on.

This was Muguruza’s first title on clay and also her first title of 2016!  Muguruza’s results have been steadily improving during the year and it just felt like she’d timed it perfectly for the French. I had a feeling in the off-season about Garbi for the French Open and before the tournament  although admittedly, I lost my bottle in picking her as my champ at the start of the tournament. It reminds me of Petra and Wimbledon 2014… I had champion vibes but didn’t follow through and picked Petra as a finalist in the end and went safe with Serena!

Taking a step back from Serena’s incredible career, two Slam finals this year is still an excellent achievement… but it’s not what we’ve come to expect from Serena who has now lost consecutive Slam finals for the first time in her career. Once again, #22 was so near yet so far. Kudos to Serena though who was extremely gracious in defeat and gave all the credit to Muguruza. Her reaction after realising the lob on Championship point was in was wonderful. This will be a tough one to take but today was Muguruza’s day… congrats, Garbi!

Here are some of my favourite tweets from the women’s final…

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22 thoughts on “Garbiñe Muguruza, 2016 French Open Champ!

  1. Despite her loss, Serena has a good two weeks of rest to heal her adductor injury before Wimbledon starts around the corner again. She WILL be able to get to 22 at Wimbledon. The conditions in the UK are not as terrible as Paris! I really like how Serena gave so much credit to Muguruza.

    All I can say though now is Thank God Wimbledon is on grass, not clay, and that they have roofs there. Without a roof in Paris, the players have been put through hell, because it was more important to finish the tournament on time, instead of giving them days off in between! I already sense that Serena will reach the Wimbledon final without dropping a set and win the title in three sets. Or, she’ll win Wimbledon without dropping a set.

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    • Yes, Roland Garros wasn’t always easy but I think it was a worthy final with an deserved winner.
      Definitely right last words from James: Today was Muguruza’s day. 😉

      I hope that both will win some more slams. 🙂

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  2. I was working all day so haven’t watched but I’m not at all surprised. Muguruza winning a Slam seemed inevitable and I’m absolutely thrilled for her.
    It does sound like Serena wasn’t quite 100% which also isn’t a big surprise given the conditions, her playing consecutive days and her age. I still believe she’ll win a Slam this year and she could very well win the next two.

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  3. One thing I forgot to say was that even with no Slams, only 1 title this year and half a dozen tournaments played…Serena leads on the Road to Singapore by quite a large margin of points. While it always seemed possible for her to catch Graf in Slams, a couple years ago I don’t think ANYONE thought she’d catch up to Steffi on weeks at #1. And yet she’s inching closer and closer. If she were to win a couple more Slams it’s very possible she’ll close that gap too! Incredible.

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  4. Excellent win for Garbine. She steeled herself this time. This answers @Peter’s question of who could upset Serena. Contrary to others, I thought the death of Ali would subdue her. It’s a more sombre reflective thing. That aside, Serena has good ‘relations’ with Garbine, cheering that final lob for me shows she was actually present in the game and not zoned. Tsk…I doubt Maria would have gotten a clap for that.

    Anyway, Kudos to Garbine, well done. I hope she can remain consistent cause that’s what it takes to be a true great. 3 different slam winners so far but the same Serena each time, that level of consistency. There could be a silver lining here, cause it may take the edge a bit off Garbine next time they should meet at a Slam final ( say, Wimbledon) cause she has that first win under her belt. Or it could be Serena playing Radwanska/Lisicki/Keys and they also win instead..lol. At this point, the most assured path to reach 22 is to play Maria in a final, but it will come in a rather mundane manner.

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  5. What I loved most about Garbine’s win ‘she believed’ she had a great game plan and stuck to it.My dad a tennis nut once said to me………’sometimes you have to lose a GS final in order to know how to win one’….Garbine was left wanting last year in the final at Wimbledon against Serena,though to her credit she got a great coach and worked on her game.Congrats Garbine enjoy your first Grand Slam Victory!

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      • With their big serves, groundstrokes and net play, grass should probably be their best surface.

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  6. Djokovic FINALLY wins. Career Slam, Nole Slam. I don’t care if he never beats Federers 17, he’s just an Olympic Gold and Cincinatti away from being the GOAT.

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    • Woah, easy, I’ll be around to keep you honest. GOAT is always arguable. Things are a bit different on the men’s side and a GOAT must be given a context. Much like my father thinks Ali is the best boxer of all time and his brother thinks it’s Marciano, context is always important.

      Great win for him btw, I really hope he enjoys his tennis from here on out. RiO could be his last chance for Olympic gold, but Wimbers is 3 weeks away, with Olympics shortly after, then 2 weeks the Usopen, it’s going to be a tight scheduling and a great effort. Cincinatti is doable.

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      • Why is it? He’s setting records that Sampras and Rafa and Federer weren’t able to, he’s had 2 of the best seasons any player has ever had and this could well be another. If he gets that Gold and surpasses Rafa and Pete for Slams then I think he has a legitimate case as the greatest ever. Had he had a few years playing in a weak period like Roger had 2004-2007 just imagine what he’d have already accomplished.

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      • @Liskerrett, funny enough, it was a discussion about him that brought up the argument. It tends to come down to that.

        @andrewmarkpt, don’t mind me, just being trivial. But, there is also the argument Novak is playing in a weak period with ailing former champions who he never dominated at their peak. He may just have to top the slams. It’s all really subjective, but that is why I like the sport. Just like, Graff vs Williams vs Court vs Navratilova.

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      • Ah but Djokovic did dominate them at their peak in 2011-13. And I think its fair to say that Wawrinka and Murray make this a much stronger era than those detractors claim. Hell even Federer himself said last year he felt he was playing the best tennis of his career. And Rafa has been very vocal that he thinks Djokovic is playing the best tennis that’s ever been played.

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    • For some reason, Novak just doesn’t seem to have the following or inspire the devotion that Roger and Rafa had at their peak. I’ve seen him interviewed on Youtube and he’s certainly witty and amusing (he did a skit once where he impersonated Maria Sharapova and wore a blonde wig whilst she looked on unimpressed).

      I don’t know whether or not he’s the all time best player but he’s certainly very close; he’s very hard to beat indeed (just ask Andy Murray).

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  7. I dont know, even though I had picked Muguruza over Serena, I think French Open was Serena’s best chance this year for a slam, in my opinion Serena was least vulnerable at the French, come Wimbledon there will be many many good players who bring their best on grass, so I think it wont be easy for Serena, like Serena matched Navratilova and Evert at the US Open, she will match Graf as well at the US Open.
    Wimbledon will be something where many players bring their best – Kvitova, Radwanska, Lisciki, Muguruza, Venus, Pironkova, Azarenka.

    If Muguruza maintains form, She can win Wimbledon as well.

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    • I’ll be surprised if Muguruza has a deep run at Wimbledon. As great as her game is when its ON, she plays *so* flat and that is always going to bring periods of inconsistency. Plus she’s now well and truly one of the big players so she has a bright big target on her back.

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    • Barring any injuries or such, I agree and think there is more competition on grass. But, she surely will feel the so called ‘pressure’ now that she(Garbine) has won a slam. She is a top scalp to any adversary now. I would include Keys and even Kerber to your list of names. It seems Sharapova may not get a reprieve before the tournament starts else she would’ve been in the mix.

      I didn’t think the French was Serena’s best chance at the slam because she’s never defended that title before. This quest will come when it comes, for lack of a better expression. I think she may have to forget about it in order to find it. Maybe Wimbledon or Usopen, or Australia again.

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      • First time Slam winners have more often than not struggled to back it up immediately after and even Muguruza when she made the Wimbledon final last year didn’t have great results in the US after. Intrigued as ever to see how she deals with it all but a tough ask.

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      • Yeah Wimbledon should be Serena’s easiest potential Slam since the conditions best suit her game and shes able to win so many free points off her serve taking the pressure off everything else. I know she lost to Cornet a couple years ago but there were clearly other personal issues affecting her at that tournament outside of tennis.

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  8. Garbine certainly looks good holding that trophy aloft too; it looks big in the hands of most players but somehow it’s about the right size for her 🙂

    A very well deserved win for Garbi anyway; I’m happy to have been wrong about Serena winning it as I thought she would.

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