Saturday, July 15, 2017

2017 WIMBLEDON: Muguruza Wins 2nd Major, Denying Venus her 8th

In a surprisingly one-sided result, Garbiñe Muguruza won her first Wimbledon singles title by defeating 5-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams 7-5 6-0. It's Muguruza's 2nd major title, and curiously both have come with victories over Williams sisters (in 2016 she beat Serena in the French Open final). Bizarrely, the 23-year-old Spaniard has only won four WTA titles in her career and not even reached a final since winning the French 13 months ago. Many people have noted that Muguruza was coached here by the only other Spanish woman to win Wimbledon, Conchita Martinez, who won her title by denying Martina Navratilova her bid to become the oldest Wimbledon Ladies champion in 1994 at age 37, which just happens to be the age of Muguruza's opponent today.

The match was an odd one. For the first 8 games it was nervy but high quality tennis, with both players saving multiple breakpoints. Finally in the 10th game Venus had two breakpoints which were set points at 4-5 15-40 and they had a 19-stroke rally where they exchanged forehands. Up to that point Muguruza had been spraying forehands by several feet out of the court but she bore down and it was Venus who blinked, hitting a shot into the net. On the second set point, Muguruza got a great first serve and Venus missed the forehand return long. Once those set points were gone, Muguruza continued with the strong serving, won that game and, as often happens, once she had saved break points she earned opportunities to break in Venus' next service game. However, now the Venus of LAST year had returned, and her forehand form started breaking down, as she was hitting it both VERY long and also into the net. As Garbiñe's form went up, Venus' went down and Venus ended up not winning another game, losing 9 in a row in the stretch to lose her 9th major final 5-7, 0-6. There have only been 5 bagel sets in women's final in the Open era.

Although the final result was disappointing for her,  it was still an amazing result for Venus to reach 2 major finals in the same year, after an 8-year drought of numerous first round losses. For Muguruza, she will return to World #5 in the WTA rankings, with Venus returning to World #9. Having won two majors in two years, Muguruza has demonstrated that she has the game (and mental strength) to be a force in women's tennis as the end of the Williams era of domination comes closer.

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