WUHAN, China - Former No.1 Garbiñe Muguruza has her eyes trained forward after ending her five-match skid in the first round of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open. The Spaniard won her first match since advancing to the Round of 16 at Roland Garros, defeating Peng Shuai 6-3, 6-2 to set up a second-round showdown with No.3 seed Elina Svitolina.
It has been a tough season for the two-time major champion, who has posted a 22-14 record and making the semifinals or better at a tournament once so far, a title run at the International event in Monterrey in April. For the first time since 2013, Muguruza failed to make the quarterfinals or better at Slam and saw her ranking slip to No.28 this season, her lowest ranking since July 2014.
"I think I’m just exactly where I have to be," Muguruza told a small group of reporters in Wuhan. "Sometimes you have this feeling, like, of course there are things that okay, I could have done this better, or man, I wish I had known better at this time, but it is what it is.
"I feel like right now, it’s a good situation to start again the journey back."
After four years together, Muguruza split with her coach Sam Sumyk after Wimbledon this summer and has yet to appoint a new full-time coach. She has been working with Spanish Fed Cup Captain Anabel Medina Garrigues during the hardcourt season.
"We are just doing this [for] the last part of the season," Muguruza said. "She is helping me out in these different circumstances and yeah, I feel quite happy about it."
"She has been a very good player so she knows the challenges that I’m facing. I think we just make fun about it, and that’s great because in tough situations you cannot take everything in your face.
"So we try to take it easy, we make jokes, we have fun."
The word "journey" came up frequently as Muguruza talked through her disappointing 2019 campaign. Still just 25-years-old, she is determined as ever to reclaim her place in the Top 10 where she belongs.
"[The motivation], it’s the same," Muguruza said. "It’s just you’re in different circumstances, different challenges, different player.
"But I feel super-motivated. This doesn’t last forever and I’m a pretty ambitious player, so I want to be at a high level.
"Maybe before, you were younger and everything is a bigger drama when things aren’t going your way. And now I’m like, I’ve been there, I will have to figure out a different way, because what worked before would not work all your life and you start to find different paths."
"I consider myself as a pretty solid player. There are rough moments, matches that slip out of your hand and stuff, but you’ve got to keep working hard and people have to play well to beat me and I’m going to be there fighting."
Asked whether we can expect a "New Garbiñe" in 2020, Muguruza laughed.
"I don’t know," she said. "I am Garbiñe. I’ll be the same, but still motivated and with a big desire to be on the top, because that’s what I play for.
"Once you’ve been very up, holding those trophies and being in these situations, you want to be there again. That’s what I’m looking for."