Hampered Venus Defeats Injured Muguruza For Wuhan Title
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Venus Williams claimed her 47th career title with a 6-3, 3-0 ret. victory over a struggling Garbine Muguruza.
Prior to the start of play, it was doubtful that either of them would have made it to the final. Venus was struggling physically after her long semi-final against Roberta Vinci, in which she saved two match points. Muguruza, on the other hand, rolled her ankle during her semi-final match against Angelique Kerber, an ankle that had already required surgery in 2013.
In the early exchanges, the Spaniard did look the fresher of the two. The fifth seed, who was one win away from sealing a spot in the Year End Championships, came out of the blocks firing with an opening break. She could not consolidate however, and Venus was able to break straight back.
In truth, they were both wounded warriors struggling to move. As a result, these two heavy hitters exchange haymakers akin to a heavyweight boxing fight. It was not pretty, but it was entertaining.
Venus’ experience and champion mentality began to take the forefront in the latter stages of the opening set. The former world number one was seemingly dealing with her diminished physicality better than the Spaniard, and found the crucial break before sealing the first set 6-3 with an ace.
An already struggling Muguruza began to fully feel the effects of her injury In the second set. Her already slow movement was hampered further, and she could not properly execute her service motion. That affected the confidence of the Wimbledon finalist, whose game broke down with unforced errors.
After going a double break down, Muguruza decided to not risk aggravating the injury and called it quits at 3-0, thus crowing Venus the champion of Wuhan, her biggest title In five years.
“Well, this is a sad day today,” said Muguruza post-match. “I’m very sorry I had to retire today, but I had a really amazing week here in Wuhan. I felt so much support from the crowd – it was great. Also, I really want to congratulate Venus. She’s always such a tough player and she had an amazing week, as well. For sure we’ll play again soon, and it’s going to be a tough match, of course.”
“Congratulations Garbiñe for making the final,” Williams said. “I know you had a tough match yesterday – it’s not easy when you don’t play your best, and I probably didn’t have a chance if you felt well!”
Despite the loss, Muguruza can take a lot from this week. Not only did she show signs of returning to form after a struggling summer post Wimbledon, she has moved to number five in the WTA rankings- her highest to date. She has also put herself in prime position to be on the plane to Singapore.
Speaking of which, this victory has thrown Venus right into the mix. The 35 year old has moved from 23 in the race to the top eight in the race rankings, with the last direct acceptance being number nine due to Serena Williams’ withdrawal.
The doubles title once again went to Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza. The Swiss-Indian pairing claimed their seventh title of the season with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Irina Begu and Monica Niculescu.
Elsewhere in Tashkent, Nao Hibino won her first WTA title with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Donna Vekic.
The Japanese was playing only her second main draw tournament, but seemed unfazed by the occasion. She managed to hit her flat ground strokes to perfection, leaving the Croatian defenceless.
“The peaceful atmosphere and kind people made my stay in Tashkent great this year,” Hibino said after the final. “I’m so happy to win my first WTA title here and I hope I can come back next year! I didn’t expect this result at the beginning of the week. I can’t believe it. I was just focusing on my service games against all of my opponents, and trying not to get broken, playing aggressive and not changing my game from the first round to here – so I’m just really happy with the result.”
“I couldn’t do anything, she was just playing really well,” Vekic commented. “She was very solid and getting all the balls back – I tried to break her rhythm, but I couldn’t. She played a great match.”