In what was a rather bizarre year for the WTA Tour. One of those who had a season full of ups and downs was Garbine Muguruza, who managed to finish the year second in the rankings following a strong second half of the season.
Muguruza had seemingly failed to build on her maiden Grand Slam triumph at the 2016 French Open, with the Spaniard struggling right until she failed to defend her title in early June. However, after that, the Spaniard seemed much more fresh and confident, capturing both the Wimbledon and Cincinnati titles and rising to world number one for the first time in her career.
Following what has arguably been the best year of Muguruza’s career, despite an inconsistent start to 2017, this piece takes a look back at the highs and lows the Spaniard endured throughout the season and also looks at what she could do in 2018.
After the disappointment of failing to defend her title in Paris, Muguruza rebounded incredibly well, with the most notable moment of hers this season being her run to the Wimbledon title in July.
A finalist at SW19 in 2015, Muguruza dropped just one set on her way to the final, against Angelique Kerber in the fourth round, and then beat Svetlana Kuznetsova and Magdalena Rybarikova before overcoming Venus Williams in the final to secure a second Grand Slam title. Though her other slam results were less spectacular, she was one of only two women to reach the second week at every slam, with a quarterfinal showing at the Australian Open and fourth round showings at the French Open and US Open.
Following her triumph at Wimbledon, Muguruza then reached the last four in Stanford and the last eight at the Rogers Cup, before capturing the title in Cincinnati by crushing Simona Halep in the final. That run helped her rise to the world number one ranking following the US Open, with the Spaniard holding the top spot for a few weeks. Other strong results included semifinal showings in Brisbane and Rome and the last eight in Indian Wells and Wuhan, and she also qualified for the WTA Finals, though failed to make it out of the group
Though this will undoubtedly go down as perhaps the best season of Muguruza’s career so far, there were some moments where the Spaniard was evidently far from her best.
Though she reached the last eight in Melbourne for the first time, she won just four games against Coco Vandeweghe in their quarterfinal, and she then lost early at Premier Tournaments in both Doha and Dubai. She only reached the fourth round at the Miami Open and also struggled in parts of the clay court season, losing in the first round of Madrid to Timea Bacsinszky and in the second round of Stuttgart to Anett Kontaveit.
Muguruza also suffered some heavy losses throughout the season. As well as retiring four times in her opening nine tournaments of the season, she also won just four games in front of her home crowd when playing Bacsinszky, and won just one game against Barbora Strycova at Eastbourne. Her first tournament as the world number one also ended in a heavy defeat, with Caroline Wozniacki conceding just two games in their semifinal clash in Tokyo.
Though Muguruza is in a very good position ahead of the 2018 season, with only Simona Halep above her in the rankings, there can be no doubt that the Spaniard can make further progress next year.
Though she has a large number of points to defend in the second half of the season, during the first half of the season there will be several chances for her to collect more ranking points and potentially put herself back at the world number one spot. This is certainly the case when it comes to the Grand Slams where, aside from Wimbledon, she is capable is going further at any of them than she did last year.
Muguruza has started the past two seasons fairly slowly, so it will be interesting to see if she can start playing at a high level much earlier in 2018. Furthermore, though she has undoubtedly achieved a lot in her career, she has incredibly won only five titles overall, and it will be interesting to see how much she can improve on this.
Season Grade: B+
Though winning both a Grand Slam title and a Premier title is a wonderful achievement, and one that Muguruza should get credit for, it is hard to give her an A grade considering how better her season could have been with more consistency and confidence. Despite that, it has been a very good season for her, and it would be no surprise if she can push on from this.