Saturday, June 04, 2016

2016 FRENCH OPEN: Muguruza Wins 1st Major, Denies Serena Her 22nd

In not that surprising an upset 22-year-old Garbine Muguruza of Spain defeated 34-year-old Serena Williams 7-5 6-4 in the 2016 Roland Garros women's final to win her very first major title. Any time anyone wins their first major title history has been made, and for the third consecutive major there has been a first-time winner: Flavia Pennetta (2015 US Open), Angelique Kerber (2016 Australian Open) and Garbine Muguruza (2016 French Open). This was after Serena had won 4 consecutive majors in a row. However, by winning this match, Muguruza will rise to World #2 in the WTA rankings and now has beaten Serena twice in two meetings at the clay court major (and their head-to-head is now 3-2 in Serena's favor.) With her loss, Serena is again denied her 22nd major title which leaves her one behind the all-time leader Steffi Graf and she falls to 21W-6L  record in major finals.
Muguruza becomes the second player (after Petra Kvitova) born in the 1990s to win a major title. Who will be next?

The match was generally of a very high quality, despite Muguruza's multiple double faults and Serena's clearly limited movement. The two often traded hard-hitting ground strokes, with the young Spaniard able to generate and match firepower with Serena. In the end, the first set was won after Serena was broken (by double faulting on triple break point at 2-all) and Muguruza eventually served out the set. This happened after Serena was basically a break down for most of the set but was able to finally break back to even the match at 5-all. It was a very close set, with the Spaniard winning 42 points to Serena's 41.Things did not get much better for Serena in the second set, with Muguruza getting an early break and holding on. In the 9th game, Serena saved four break points which were also championship points to force the youngster to serve for the match at 5-4, which Muguruza did without losing a point!

The important stats were:
Serena finished with seven aces to four double-faults, hitting 23 winners to 22 unforced errors. But she was just two for eight on break points. Muguruza hit four aces to nine double-faults, hitting 18 winners to 25 unforced errors, and going four for 10 on break points.
This indicates that Muguruza played the big points better, and it was clear for most observers that she was often outhitting Serena from the back of the court. Serena's serve was not as big a weapon as it usually is. I still believe that the day will come when Serena will play her best tennis in a major and win her 22nd title.

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