Spaniards On The Rise: Garbiñe Muguruza
Published December 07, 2012 12:00
BARCELONA, Spain - She pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the year at one of the biggest tournaments of the year, and going into the 2013 season, Garbiñe Muguruza may be one of the biggest contenders of the year.
Muguruza's origins are unique - her mother is Venezuelan, her father is Spanish, and she was born in Venezuela, though raised in Spain - but her game style is nothing like the stereotypical South American or Spanish style, with a big serve, even bigger groundstrokes and a penchant for hardcourts over clay.
"Tennis is my life," Muguruza said. "My brothers were already playing it by the time I was born and I immediately wanted to give it a go. From very early on I knew it was for me, most of all because it was what I liked to do - nothing gave me more pleasure than taking to the courts and playing kids my own age."
Muguruza honed her game at the Bruguera Academy in Barcelona.
"I've spent so much time at the Bruguera Academy, as I started there when I was so young," she said. "It's always been amazing for me there. I've always felt loved and I've always evolved as a player there. The daily routine was tough but a lot of fun, as you were constantly with people doing something you liked."
Having worked her way up through ITFs and WTA qualies, Muguruza made her WTA main draw debut at Miami in March, and what a debut it was: as a No.208-ranked wildcard she blazed into the fourth round, taking out Vera Zvonareva and Flavia Pennetta along the way - and that second round win over then-World No.9 Zvonareva made her the equal-fastest player ever to score her first Top 10 win, with Andrea Leand also doing it in her second WTA main draw match all the way back at the 1981 US Open (beating Andrea Jaeger).
"I was really happy to take part in such a big tournament," Muguruza said. "Finding myself on court against hugely talented players like that, and with such a different atmosphere to what I'm used to, was one of the best experiences of my life. The most nerve-wracking moment came in my first match. Once I got through the first round I felt more comfortable and was able to play my game."
Muguruza would subsequently reach her first WTA quarterfinal in Fès, make it as high as No.94 during the summer and finish the year No.104. The 19-year-old was asked whether she envisioned such a breakthrough year in 2012.
"To be honest, I didn't," Muguruza commented. "You never know how you are going to finish the year, not until the last tournament is over, but I always want to do the best I can. Anything can happen over the course of a season."
And her goals for the 2013 season? "My next goal is to get to the level needed to compete at the highest level, be strong and to give it my all."
This week, with the help of madrid-open.com, the official website of one of the biggest tournaments of the year, the Mutua Madrid Open, we've been introducing you to three of Spain's stars on the rise. For the full interview with Muguruza and more from the Spanish capital, please click here!