Australian Open 2023: Muguruza and the magic that is made to beg | Sports

For some time now, exactly since she achieved a unique milestone at the end of 2021 by becoming the first Spanish woman to win the Teachers’ Cup, Garbiñe Muguruza has been walking the circuit on tiptoe, like the one who wants to leave the room with the will to not be seen In other words, she Garbiñe is not Garbiñe, or at least not completely, not that player who was stomping everywhere and even more so on the big stages, where she grew and fell like a cluster bomb. First the Wimbledon final (2015), then the sky of Roland Garros (2016), then London (2017) and a couple of winters ago, when he did not enter the pools despite having qualified for the Masters, the glory found in Guadalajara (Mexico). There suddenly boom!, again.

“I haven’t been the most stable player and I don’t want to be either. That has shown me that I have magic; I don’t want to depend on it, but sometimes it usually comes out of it and I have the talent to make it possible, ”she said six months ago at Wimbledon, after the last loss. That day she was trying to console herself after giving up a 6-0 against the 88th in the world, in 18 minutes. She added the blur to the poor performance of the rest of the season and that continues to this day, because the third round achieved at the last US Open tastes too little for a tennis player of her category. She searches for herself Muguruza, once again confident that one moment or another, that magic will reappear.

“Going as a favorite sometimes doesn’t help, due to the pressure. Now I’m not, but I think I have options to move forward. I am very excited for this season to go better than the previous one. I think I’m good at coming back suddenly and surprising ”, she says in Melbourne, where the next morning (1.00, Eurosport) she will debut against the Belgian Elise Mertens, the 32nd in the ranking.

Objectively, nobody expects a bombshell or a great outburst from Muguruza in this Open, and even less after the two defeats signed in the run-up to the tournament, against Bianca Andreescu and Belinda Bencic in the double trial in Adelaide. But, objectively too, few would dare to dismiss it completely. It was not easy to spot her in the final three years ago, but she took out her wand and there she was, close, very close to achieving her third great one, until she was blocked during the denouement and was just a trifle away from also treading the Australian summit. The American Sofia Kenin triumphed, who became number four and today is the 203rd. Yes, tennis.

Few hours on track

“The competition is not quite fitting, I have missed games, but I look good. From experience, it can happen that I have a good tournament”, insists the Spaniard, who was able to complete a productive pre-season at the Puente Romano Club in Marbella and then, in making contact with the competition, gave up in both commitments and that is why she reaches the premiere with “bittersweet sensations”. Good base, but the competitive spark is missing. “It is true that I have had a lot of time to prepare and train, but I have not accumulated hours on the court, although I have played here for many years [11 participaciones] and I know that anything can happen”, he adds.

The theoretical map of the draw indicates that in the case of progressing, Muguruza (29 years old) would have to overcome a real minefield: Sabalenka, Bencic, Ons Jabeur, Caroline Garcia, Iga Swiatek… But right now, reality forces her to compete from a low profile and to think exclusively about the immediate, nothing beyond. It is the 73rd in the world -the lowest position since May 2013-, it links four setbacks in the transition from one course to another, its balance since the success of Guadalajara is negative -12 wins, 19 losses- and it has not won a game since to get past the first round in Tokyo in September.

”It will be a tough season because I start from below, so I have to play games and gain confidence. Sometimes going from that position can work for you because you are more in the shadow. Let’s see, who knows…”, resolves Garbiñe, rubbing the lamp over and over again so that that magic that resists returns.

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