Saturday, July 15, 2017

Muguruza feels a "bomb of emotions"--and drops a bomb of her own

Garbine Muguruza topped off her brilliant 2017 Wimbledon run today by defeating Venus Williams in straight sets and lifting the Venus Rosewater dish for the first time. Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion, came close in 2015, but was defeated in that final by Serena Williams.

The first set was highly competitive and featured some stunning, very hard-hitting rallies, as one would expect from Muguruza and Williams. Muguruza had won the toss and elected to receive, but did not break her opponent in the first game, so she spent the rest of that set as the one "playing behind." And, serving at 4-5, she faced two break points--set points for Williams.

What ensued was a rally of 20 strokes, creating what was probably the most tense period in the entire match. It ended when Williams struck a forehand into the net. On the next point, Williams struck the ball long, and the set continued. And that 5-all moment changed the tone of the entire final. Neither player was the same after that. Williams' level declined, and Muguruza got control of her errant forehand, winning nine straight games. The Spaniard's 7-5, 6-0 victory backed up her very strong tendency to win a match when she wins the first set.

The match ended in a somewhat unusual way, though we've seen it before. Williams hit a ball that was called in, Muguruza challenged the call, and sure enough--the ball was out, which meant that Muguruza was the 2017 Wimbledon champion.

"It's such a bomb of emotions," the 15th seed said in her on-court interview, about what it felt like to realize that she was the champion.

Muguruza's coach, Sam Sumyk, could not be there, so she was coached during the event by the only other Spanish woman to win Wimbledon, Conchita Martinez. Muguruza dropped 44 games throughout the seven matches, and she dropped only one set--to Angelique Kerber.

The most interesting statistic, however, involves Muguruza's WTA career wins. She has won only four events, and two of them are majors. Of the others, one (Hobart) is an international tournament, and the other (Beijing) is a premier mandatory event. We sometimes talk about "big stage" players, but Muguruza has taken the meaning of this term to a whole new level.

The last two winners of majors were coached by Spanish women. Note to players: If you want to win the U.S. Open--better call Arantxa.


jwr said...

I suppose the "Venus fell apart" theme will be debated and, of course, in once sense, she did. In the five or six game stretch that turned the match, she tried long rallies and lost them. She tried coming to the net and was routinely passed. She tried hitting first strike returns and either missed them (because of the bite on the serve) or had them spanked right back. She tried taking something off her first serve (because the hard serves weren't winning her any freebies) and they got punished. She tried going back to hard serving with no success. She "feel apart" because none of her tactics were working. In other words, she fell apart because Mugu made her fall apart. That's how it goes sometimes. Amazing how often in women's tennis (and women's tennis only) it's more about the loser's failure than the winner's success.

That said, I had to watch on ESPN3 due to my satellite being down all week and Kim Clisters (in the semis) and Tracy Austin (in the final) did a commendable job of keeping J. McEnroe in line (i.e., actually focused on tennis). He'll never be my favorite but credit to them for making him semi-listenable.

Diane said...

Well put. All Mugu needed to do was put some control on that forehand, and once she did that, she was in a position to dismantle Venus's game. This was peak Mugu, which is a bit scary.

Yes, McEnroe needs constant redirection, and I agree, the other commentators gave it well.