When Garbine Muguruza decided to part ways with coach Sam Sumyk, she was looking for a spark that saw her lift two major titles, including in 2017 at Wimbledon. In bringing back Conchita Martinez before this season began, the Spaniard was hoping to relive some glory the two shared at the All-England Club.
Fast forward to today and Muguruza is in her first Australian Open final, the first unseeded player in the Open era to defeat three top ten players in Melbourne. Ranked 36th, the former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion has knocked off Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Simona Halep on her way to a matchup with 14th seed Sofia Kenin for the championship.
Martinez talks about off-season preparation that led to success in Melbourne
Martinez knew Muguruza was on when "I looked at her strokes, the way she's moving, I can just see it, how the ball comes out of her racquet, how she's moving, how she's getting to the ball. When she's getting to the ball, everything looks good, that's when she playing her best tennis. There's no secret."
A finalist in Melbourne in 1998, the 47-year old revealed that "there's a lot of work behind this preparation for this tournament, for the beginning of the season. We had a great preseason. We worked on a lot of aspects of her tennis, her fitness, everything. I think it's looking sharp."
After parting ways with world number two Karolina Pliskova, Martinez immediately joined forces with Muguruza for a second, and this time, permanent basis, in November. After five weeks of training in San Diego to lead into the 2020 season, she wanted her countrywoman to begin fresh.
"It was a new beginning. It was a new year", she said. "You got to forget the previous years. If you have good work behind you, you're going to trust yourself better. So that;s what we did. It was a combination of things. It's not only one thing. We worked everything at the right moment.
"At the beginning she needed more fitness. We did more fitness. Progressively we changed a few things. I know her well, so I know what I want to work with her. She was open. No complaints. She's been working hard, so..."
Muguruza took a trip to the top of Mount Kilmanjaro and while that wasn't part of Martinez' off-season program, the former Wimbledon champion believes it's benefitted her mentally more than anything else.
"I think the mental part, you have to stay very tough", she stated. "I don't know because i haven't done it. Her stories, it's super cold where you can barely rest and you have to continue walking, where you had to overcome your fears and also be strong to continue.
"I think that gives you something mentally, that's for sure. I think she felt great about doing that. Not maybe everybody can reach the summit, but she did."
On Saturday, thanks to her help, Martinez and Muguruza may be at the summit of the tennis world once again.