Muguruza Claims First Premier Mandatory Crown
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
A marvelous two weeks in China for Garbine Muguruza was capped off with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Timea Bacsinszky to claim the Beijing crown.
Hampered by an ankle problem in the Wuhan final loss to Venus Williams the previous week, Muguruza was doubtful to even make the tournament let alone win it.
The initial goal was to secure her place in Singapore beyond any doubt, which she successfully did against Mirjana Lucic Baroni in round three.
Seeing the top seeds fall around her and feeling the ankle was well enough to play on, Muguruza battled on to the final, beating Bethanie Mattek Sands and Agnieszka Radwanska en route.
Her opponent, Bacsinszky, had struggled post Wimbledon herself and was looking to rekindle her early season form. Wins over Carla Suarez Navarro, Sara Errani and Ana Ivanovic secured the Swiss’ place in Sundays final.
Muguruza had be a thorn in Bacsinszky’s side this season, winning their two previous meetings at the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year.
It would provide a fine appetiser for an action packed day of tennis in Beijing with both players exchanging backhands in the opening moments.
The Spaniard got off to a fast start with a break, but it was quickly overturned by Bacsinszky who raced to a 5-2 lead. The play was largely erratic with both players suffering physically after battling semi-finals.
But Muguruza found that extra gear she needed just in time, overturning the deficit to take the first set 7-5.
The Swiss responded with an early break in the second set, but the fifth seed quickly brought it back level. The margins were slim with neither seemingly able to run away with the set. The Wimbledon finalist, however, upped the pressure in the latter stages and earned a break at 4-4 to put herself within one service game of the title.
Muguruza had struggled to close out her semi-final against Radwanska after leading 5-1 in the third set, but she had no such trouble this time. A missed backhand by Bacsinszky spelled the end as Muguruza felt to the court in triumph.
It was her biggest title yet, and first crown since Hobart in 2014. The biggest win of her career has been topped off by a new career high ranking of four, with potential to finish the year as the world number three.
Another big effort from The Swiss has brought her into the world’s top ten for the first time in her career. Remarkable given she turned her back on the game a few years ago.
“I actually want to dedicate this tournament to someone. I came from really, really far away, I almost retired two years ago, and this man over there, my coach, Dimitri, thank you for helping me every day. You brought Stanislas to Top 10, and now you’ve brought me to Top 10. Thank you for every day.”
“I want to congratulate Timea of course – Top 10 is an amazing achievement,” Muguruza said.
“For me, to be able to come and win the tournament after losing in the finals of Wuhan last week is a great achievement. It’s amazing, and I can’t wait to come back and defend my title next year.”
The Spaniard is certainly a player to watch next year. Now amongst the elite, she will be amongst the favourites for Singapore and for the Grand slams next year. Sky is the limit. But for now she will celebrate a week in which she turned 22, secured a place in Singapore, achieved a career high ranking and won her biggest title to date.
It was a big week in the doubles too. Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza claimed their eighth title of the year with a three set victory over the Chan Sisters. The world number one doubles team came through 6-7(9), 6-1, 10-8 in a dramatic final.
The Chan sisters’ run secured their place in the Year End Championships. They joined the team of Caroline Garcia and Katarina Srebotnik who also confirmed their participation this week.
There is only one spot left in the doubles finals. Hingis/Mirza will be there with Lucie Safarova/Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Casey Dellacqua/Yaroslava Shvedova, Elena Vesnina/Ekaterina Makarova, Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic, Garcia/Srebotnik and the Chan sisters.