Garbiñe Muguruza hits her chest with her fist, up to three taps. The world number nine grits her teeth in rage and utters a piercing scream that echoes through Court 5 of the Flushing Meadows complex, once again exposed to a combination of scorching heat and humidity. It is a victory in the first round, something that in other times and under certain circumstances would not have ceased to be ordinary, routine, another step. Today, however, the spoils (6-3 and 7-6(5) to Clara Tauson, after 2h 02m) have a much greater meaning for the Spanish, who has not resolved a match in a Grand Slam since beating Clara Burel in Melbourne on January 17. That is, 225 days later, the tennis player found the light.
“This gives me joy and energy,” he replies to this newspaper after having overcome a more than tricky day and having won the appointment with the young Linda Fruhvirtova (17 years old, 167th in the world). “I am satisfied with what I have done. Obviously, I don’t take any victory for granted, especially this year. And here she has lost more than once at the beginning [tres en el arranque], so it was very important for me to overcome this first challenge”, adds the former number one, caged in tennis and emotionally since signing her last big bite, the November master title in Guadalajara. After that Mexican milestone she – she is the only Spanish player who has achieved it –, doubts, potholes and too many defeats, but also the firm will to turn history around.
He opened wide when he fell at Wimbledon: “It’s a matter of trust. I see the light, I have magic. You just have to go on and on and on.” And he tries to raise his head in this summer strip in which the effort has not been reciprocated with good results either. He gave in in the second round in Montreal and in the first in Cincinnati, but he doesn’t give up, he doesn’t give up and tries to give himself the opportunity to close the annual tour of the big stages with a good taste in his mouth. With no incentives in the remaining calendar, everything goes through New York, the only major in which she has not managed to rise.
He conquered Paris (2016) and London (2017), and in Australia he was only deprived of glory by the American Sofia Kenin, superior in the 2020 final. In Flushing Meadows, however, his limit is set by the round of 16 reached in 2017 and last year.
“I am happy to have obtained a victory. It gives me joy and energy to continue training and competing. A victory always gives you motivation, especially because when you don’t play many games you train a lot and you’re waiting for the game to come, and when it comes and you manage to win, you say to yourself: ‘come on, it’s possible’. And since I haven’t had it lately, this makes me happy. He tells me that I am still in the tournament and that I am in the second round. And you never know… ”, she conceded after getting rid of the Danish Tauson (19 years old and 57th on the list), aware that the recovery of her best tennis simply goes through an acceptance process.
Her team influences that idea and she applies it, a whirlwind when she finds the point and the wind blows in her favor, but fragile when things go wrong and the gear doesn’t finish carburizing. She was never a tennis player of half measures, but of radical bets; it is her nature, no matter how much linearity demands it. In any case, the season has been the most elusive, from denial to denial – balance of 10 wins and 14 losses – so he has internalized the message: to break the shackles, you only have a pick and shovel, and trust that can get on the good wave again.
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