When you've lived your dream so suddenly, how do you avoid a let-down? That's the question facing Garbiñe Muguruza as she tries to process what was an incredible run to her first major final at Wimbledon in July. En route to that breakthrough result, the 21-year-old Spaniard overcame her grass court phobia to beat four Top 20 players in Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Timea Bacsinszky, and Agnieszka Radwanska, before losing to Serena Williams in the final.
Grass was supposed to be Muguruza's worst surface. At least that's what she thought going into just her third Wimbledon main draw. Now she's back on her favorite surface, hardcourts, for the Emirates Airline US Open series. By virtue of her Wimbledon run, Muguruza made her Top 10 debut last month, officially transitioning from being the hunter to the hunted.
WTA Insider sat down with Muguruza at the Rogers Cup to discuss her post-Wimbledon come down and how she's prepared both mentally and physically for the rest of the season. One thing is clear: She's well-aware of how difficult these next few months could be.
WTA Insider: You've had a few weeks to rest and recover after Wimbledon. How are you feeling?
Muguruza: Calm. Actually been very calm. After this emotion in Wimbledon it's good to be back to touch the ground and start over.
WTA Insider: So what did you do after Wimbledon? Did you get a chance to celebrate?
Muguruza: I didn't do anything. I went home to Barcelona and I was just with my family. I was just having a good time, going to the beach, eat a lot. I just wanted to be calm because I gave it all at Wimbledon. I was empty. So I wanted to just [exhales]. Tennis is over now.
WTA Insider: Now that you've had some time to reflect on those two weeks, how different was the actual reality of playing your first Wimbledon final, on Centre Court, against Serena, compare to the dreams you had as a kid?
Muguruza: It's always going to surprise you, a Wimbledon final. It's actually weird because I didn't like grass so much. But I changed completely my mentality with grass and I had the results so fast. So fast. I have good memories. The trophy ceremony, when all these people were clapping and happy I was there in the final. I was crying.
WTA Insider: You went into Wimbledon thinking there's no way you could play well on grass. You hated the stuff. Then you go on to make the final. Does that change your mentality? Does it open up for you, in your mind, what you're capable of?
Muguruza: I have to say yes. Every day I discover new things. Three years ago I was like, oh that will never happen. Now it's happening. Everything is mental. Now I try to see things different. The circuit and everything I do. It just proved to me that I can be in the top actually.
WTA Insider: So now we're into the hardcourt summer. Do you feel different than in the years past?
Muguruza: It feels different. But it feels different because I've never been in this kind of situation, coming from a Grand Slam final. Everyone is looking at what you're doing, but it's normal.
WTA Insider: How do you avoid a let-down?
Muguruza: It's hard because you felt a lot of emotion and you come here because you feel like you have to start from zero again. It's really hard. You come with a good level playing, and here you have to start from the first round, second round, third round. I'm trying to see other people who have been in this situation and see what they do. Like Sara Errani. She made a Slam final and stayed in the Top 10. I want to ask her, what should I do? I see a lot of examples of people who do great and then fall. I don't want to be that.
WTA Insider: Have you had to readjust your goals for the rest of the season?
Muguruza: You have new goals. I don't want to change my goals. Of course I have more possibilities, but I'm not thinking different than from before Wimbledon.
WTA Insider: A lot of younger players, we see they have all the talent and when they get to the quarterfinals or semifinals of a tournament, playing on the big courts, they can be world-beaters. But the difficulty often comes in the early rounds. Playing on the outer courts against players you expect to beat. Does having that experience of playing the Wimbledon final change how you approach the early rounds of a tournament?
Muguruza: Yes. When I go back and think - do you remember the first match I played at Wimbledon against Varvara Lepchenko or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Incredible difficult match. Can you imagine I lose? Then I won't live what I lived in the semifinals and finals. It's so important the first matches. You see how Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova play the first matches. It's 6-4 in the third but they win. They're fighting. I didn't know how important they were until I played the Wimbledon final. The first rounds are like [sighs]. First round against who?
WTA Insider: Having breakout success, especially at a Slam, can change people. Do you feel like you've changed at all?
Muguruza: No, I do the same. I practice the same. Same hours, same people. Some things change. Like the confidence in you. If I am able to face a final and live these moments that not so many people can live, you have this extra power inside of you.