Dubai: Former two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza has promised to be at her best as she heads into the season-opening inaugural Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open that gets under way at the Zayed Sports City’s International Tennis Centre from January 5-13.
Interacting virtually with global media late on Monday, the 27-year-old Spaniard said: “I feel I am back again and I am looking forward to the entire excitement of being at a new event and a new season. I am glad we are going to have crowds [at the Australian Open] and right now, I feel motivated and happy to be part of it all,” Muguruza told media.
“I am not really concerned about these times now as we make a comeback to normal tennis on the Tour as everyone is doing a great job in putting this swing together. There is a lot of attention being paid to the little details like staying put in the room and training with the same partners etc, and that is what I have to try and be prepared for heading to Melbourne,” she added.
The former world No.1 with seven titles to her name – including the 2016 French Open and the 2017 Wimbledon Championships – is part of an exciting singles field at this week’s Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open.
The inaugural tournament has attracted four of the world’s top-10 players as the first WTA tournament of the 2021 season in 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, WTA world No.5 Elina Svitolina, former world No.1 Karolina Pliskova and Aryna Sabalenka, winner of the last two WTA titles of the 2020 season. Joining that quartet of top-10 players are former Roland Garros champions Muguruza, Jelena Ostapenko and the experienced Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.n
Muguruza is scheduled to leave the UAE either on January 14 or 15 and head straight into the mandatory quarantine period prior to the start of the Australian swing of two WTA 250 events in Melbourne. “The team is putting everything together and Tennis Australia is doing a great job. I know we will all be safe,” she said.
Equipped with powerful groundstrokes and an aggressive style of play, Muguruza came to prominence in 2014 after reaching the last 16 at the Australian Open, beating former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki en route. The 27-year-old then defeated then-world No. 1 Serena Williams in the second round of the French Open to make it to her first quarter-finals at Roland Garros.
In a 2020 season that was cut short by the Coronavirus pandemic, Muguruza began the year with a semi-final appearance in Shenzhen, losing to eventual champion Ekaterina Alexandrova. After pulling out of her quarter-final match in Hobart due to illness, the Spaniard bounced back at the Australian Open beating three seeded players, including fifth seed Elina Svitolina, fourth seed Simona Halep and ninth seed Kiki Bertens to reach her fourth Grand Slam final. She lost in three sets to 14th seed and rank outsider, Sofia Kenin.
Muguruza felt that she has evolved as a player, especially after that one-week stint with the Spanish Military where she participated in all their training regimen recently.
“As far as my tennis goes, I feel I am pretty advanced already and I feel I have been around for a few years. I am no longer that junior who wants to continue playing all the time. I am taking every tournament with a different approach now simply because I don’t know how many times I will play the Australian Open,” she shrugged.
“But for sure I will be back for many more, but the only thing is I don’t know when I will be back. It’s like me taking things a little easy for the time-being,” Muguruza added.
Muguruza made the quarter-finals at the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open where she stopped former world number one Kim Clijsters’ comeback on the WTA Tour before losing to Jennifer Brady in the quarter-finals. During the following week, Muguruza once again advanced to the quarter-finals at the Qatar Open.
Her comeback after the pandemic did not see her at her best as Muguruza lost in the second round to Tsvetana Pironkova at the US Open and then in Round 3 at the French Open to finish the year ranked No.15.