Garbiñe Muguruza's best results have come on hardcourts. She won the China Open last fall and proceeded to storm her way into the semifinals of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global a few weeks later. But before all that hardcourt success, Paris is where she made her name.
The 22-year-old Spaniard earned her breakout win at the French Open in 2014, when she blasted past Serena Williams in a 6-2, 6-2 romp that lead to her first major quarterfinal. And to dispel any notion that the run was a fluke, she followed it up last year with yet another run to the quarterfinals, beating Angelique Kerber and Flavia Pennetta en route.
While guile, athleticism, and craft governed the terre battue in years past, today's game requires power. Muguruza has that in spades. Though her 2016 season has yet to live up to the promise of how she finished 2015, Muguruza has played far better than her results would indicate. She's been on the losing end of two of the best sets of tennis played this year, tallying a tough straight set loss to Victoria Azarenka at the Miami Open and then, in to Madison Keys last week in the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.
That semifinal was her first of the season and her run up to that match was a dominant one. She lost just six games on her way to the quarterfinals, where she dispatched an in-form Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets.
Bonjour à tous ?? ??? pic.twitter.com/wcyvAK7RQU
"It was a great week for me," Muguruza said in Rome. "I would like, for sure, to be in the final and win, but I felt really good playing these matches here, so it's perfect for French Open."
Throughout this season, Muguruza has played like a woman who felt the pressure of expectations. After finishing 2015 at No.3, many expected Muguruza to come flying out of the gates on hard courts. But under the bright spotlight she struggled, partly due to injury. It all seemed to come to a head a few weeks ago at the Mutua Madrid Open. The focus of local attention from the start, Muguruza took a tough loss to a streaking Irina-Camelia Begu in the second round.
A week later in Rome, she seemed far more relaxed. She played freely and with a clear sense of purpose. It was as if the pressure of the season dissipated after Madrid and she could just get back to work. If she plays the same way in Paris a deep second week run should be in the cards.
Muguruza will be seeded fourth in Paris, meaning she will avoid a quarterfinal showdown with Serena. Her game is perfectly suited for the clay in Paris, with enough power to finish points and hold serve, with enough court craft to work herself out of defensive positions. Under coach Sam Sumyk, Muguruza has been quick to try and finish points at the net. It's yet another important development to her game and again, one that will pay dividends in Paris.
Entreno matinal en el Club de Campo antes de poner rumbo a Roma. Last practice before heading to Rome. pic.twitter.com/2HkjUjJas0