No matter how much the man with the Venezuelan flag tries to revive her from the last ring – ”stay in the game, Garbiñe, stay in the game!”–, there is no possibility of return. Muguruza will give in to the Belgian Elise Mertens, who in the two previous duels between the two had not been able to beat her, and says goodbye too soon, again in the first round: 3-6, 7-6(3) and 6-1, after 2h 28m of battle under the sweltering sun this Tuesday in Melbourne. She wants the Spanish, but for the moment her tennis is not enough for her and she cannot escape the devouring loop that has trapped her since she triumphed in the Masters in Guadalajara, Mexico two years ago. Since then, more defeats than victories and too many troubles, because the decline does not respond to laziness but to a mere question of tennis and head.
They are concerned with substance and form. He does not hit the Muguruza switch and the sequence seen so many times in recent times is repeated again, because he has had the game in hand and it has finally escaped him. With the first set in his pocket and serving to win, his arm seizes, he decides wrong and gets stuck. From there, it’s downhill. He leaves the track with his head down, hiding under his visor and with a Earth swallow me in the mind. She insists and insists, but the spark does not come. “It’s hard, hard…”, she repeats in the conference room, aware that defeat is another stone in the backpack; located today in the 73rd position of the rankingin two weeks it will no longer be in the top 80 and that means that it will find several closed doors.
“I will have to make an appropriate calendar for my situation. I will try to play those tournaments [en Oriente Medio, siguiente estación del calendario]but if I couldn’t [solo es posible si recibe una invitación, por su descenso]I’ll look at others of a lesser category. You have to try to play more games ”, he affirmed before the journalists; “I have played many times in 250 or 500 [de categoría], and it always comes in handy. Even when I was better, I have also played these types of tournaments to gain confidence; It is clear that everyone likes to play in the Grand Slams and the finals, but now I have to work humbly and go a little unnoticed to try to climb again.
A tennis player of moments, of extremes, Muguruza lives in a deja vu Negative that does not stop. At 29, he tries to rejoin the cause without getting any reward, hoping that at one point or another his “magic” will return and that ability to “come back suddenly, by surprise.” However, he does not finish hitting the key. Called to mark an era, due to conditions, projection and appetite, she first touched the sky –Roland Garros, Wimbledon, number one– and later collapsed; she fell into a chasm (2018-2019) and relied on the tutelage of Conchita Martínez (2020) to look back at the heights. She rebounded precisely in Australia, where she reached the final three years ago, but then her performance described a discontinuous trajectory. Ups and downs, ups and downs; a lot of oscillation in a player capable of everything, the best and the worst. Greatness or nothing. A mystery.
“It is never easy to accept”
“I’ve had quite a few games in which I start playing well and then, at key moments… Maybe I’m not offering the highest level but I’m not offering a bad one either, but in those moments you have to close the game decisively and clearly I’m not doing it”, he explains after the fall to Mertens, again when he had everything in his favor. “It has been a mixture of tension and fatigue. It is true that I have noticed the heat [34 húmedos grados a orillas del río Yarra]but I guess like her. Physically I have noticed a small drop that has coincided with the fact that she [32ª del mundo, de 27 años] He has started to play very well, and from then on he has gone very quickly”, he continues.
The will is not accompanied by the facts, and the service record reflects that Muguruza has not won a match since mid-September, when he beat the Greek Despina Papamichail in Tokyo. Since then, five defeats and more doubts. He clings to his genius, but it is hard to come by and meanwhile, the fall continues. To the two stumbles in the first round of last year –at Roland Garros and Wimbledon–, the latter is joined at the Melbourne premiere, painful even though they have become a constant. All or nothing, a competitor without mediocrities, since she lifted the master trophy she offers a negative balance (12 wins, 20 losses).
“It’s never easy to accept,” he laments. “I feel that I have it and then I realize that I don’t”, she is sincere, the last female icon of Spanish tennis, in low hours but ready to turn history around. “I have to find a way to stay competitive in those moments when my opponents are at their best. Now I’m going to rest and continue training to be ready,” concludes Muguruza, who has no choice but to continue with the pick and shovel, row and row, trusting that her instincts are right and she hits the right shot again. light. For this, she has a whole year ahead of her.
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