Has Garbine Muguruza woken up at the 2017 Australian Open?
Garbine Muguruza has been in a lull since winning the 2016 French Open.
Spain’s Garbine Muguruza won the 2016 French Open last spring in Paris, defeating Serena Williams in the final from Roland Garros. However, the Spaniard’s game dipped quickly after the title: days after winning her first major, Muguruza lost in straight sets to World No. 61 Kirsten Flipkens. The Spaniard is currently only ranked 7th in the world, a very low ranking for a player with a Grand Slam title active. But Muguruza may have woken up again to start the current season and that means she is in contention to get into the 2017 Australian Open final.
The Spaniard started her 2017 season strong, winning three matches in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago. She retired during the semifinal against Alize Cornet at that event and then took a week off from playing ahead of Melbourne Park. So far in the women’s singles draw at the Aussie, Muguruza has not faced much of a test. She is into the fourth round at 6-0 on sets played and without really having faced a top competitor. That will likely change soon given the draw that she has ahead.
Muguruza will face Sorana Cirstea, the resurgent Romanian, in the fourth round. Cirstea is a player that new fans of tennis might not be too familiar with. She’ll turn 27 years old soon and has had a mostly-forgettable career. However, the current World No. 78 did make the French Open quarterfinals back in 2009, a time in her career when she was regarded as a blossoming talent. Injuries have hurt her for years, but at her best a Cirstea/Muguruza battle has potential to be an entertaining and competitive match. Muguruza will have to be sharp to defeat the Romanian, a player that has to be as hungry as anyone after years of irrelevance.
Angelique Kerber and Coco Vandeweghe are both near Muguruza in the draw. Kerber’s credentials require no review, but Vandeweghe is also certainly a tough out at this point in her career. She played a resilient match in the third round against Eugenie Bouchard and the American’s potential to upset the World No. 1 is real. If Muguruza can survive Cirstea, then she would be in for a tough quarterfinal regardless of who she played.
However, if the Spaniard is in fact refreshed to start the season then she is certainly capable of beating anyone on tour. To date she has not made it passed the fourth round of either hard-court Grand Slam. Furthermore, titles have actually eluded Muguruza for the most part in the past. Despite the win at Roland Garros, she only has three titles to her credit at this point in her career. The late rounds of tournaments usually cause Muguruza to stumble and perhaps the Brisbane draw is a case in point.
But as the second week of the Melbourne Park draw approaches, the World No. 7 is definitely on the radar for a title. If she’s motivated and healthy, then her hat is definitely in the ring for the No. 1 ranking in the 2017 season. A good start to the season will go a long way to helping her achieve that and the week ahead could set the stage for a strong 2017.