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Relishing “once in a lifetime opportunity”, Muguruza shines in victory over Badosa at Guadalajara

Garbine Muguruza played her best match of this year’s WTA Finals, breezing past talented compatriot Paula Badosa in straight sets to reach the final.

Garbine Muguruza 2021 WTA Finals Tennis – WTA Tour Finals – Panamerican Tennis Center, Guadalajara, Mexico – November 16, 2021 Spain’s Garbine Muguruza celebrates during her semi final match against Spain’s Paula Badosa || 212858_0005

WTA Finals Guadalajara | Draw | Schedule

  • What happened: Garbine Muguruza battled past Paula Badosa 6-3 6-3 to reach the title match at the WTA Finals.
  • Why it matters: Muguruza becomes the first Spaniard to reach the finals at the WTA’s season-ending finale since 1993.
  • You will also learn: How Muguruza has conquered the difficult conditions at Guadalajara.

Garbine Muguruza has improved with every match at the AKRON WTA Finals in Guadalajara, and on Tuesday against her compatriot Paula Badosa, the 28-year-old Spaniard put forth a near perfect display to reach the final, 6-3, 6-3.

With the win Muguruza becomes the first Spanish woman to play for the title at the WTA Finals since Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in 1993.

“Very happy with my performance,” Muguruza said. “I think it’s the best match that I played so far here in Guadalajara. It was a tough match facing another Spaniard in the semifinals of a Masters. We’ve never faced each other before. So it was tricky.”

Muguruza, making her fourth singles appearance at the WTA Finals, served magnificently, winning 26 of 32 first-serve points and saving all three break points she faced to claim victory in one hour and 25 minutes. The world No 5 will face either Anett Kontaveit or Maria Sakkari in Wednesday’s final at Guadalajara.

“I improved my serve,” the No 6 seed told reporters after her 41st victory of 2021 (she reached 40 wins for the first time since 2017). “I managed to have a serve that works here in Guadalajara. But I think everything got better. Probably the serve, it’s a shot that it’s more tricky in altitude. I feel like in general my game, my shots, my serve, my movement, it’s improving match by match. Yeah, today was the best of them all.”

A once in a lifetime opportunity

All week Muguruza has made no secret of the fact that she gets a special energy from playing in Mexico. And all week she has used that energy to elevate her game. She improved to 13-2 in main draw matches in the country with Tuesday’s win and afterwards elaborated on why she has a special vibe working in her favour this week in Guadalajara.

Muguruza says she’s motivated by the fact that it’s a rare occasion, playing a prestigious tournament like the WTA Finals in Latin America, and she wants to make sure she drinks it in.

“Probably once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me in my career to play a Masters in Mexico,” she said. “It’s a cocktail for me that’s super motivating. Every time I came here to Mexico, I always feel very welcome, very happy. The environment just clicks with me. Having a Masters played this year, it was like, ‘Okay, Garbine, this is your opportunity. You got to give it all no matter you win or lose. You have to get out of here and feel like, Man, I gave all my energy.’ Yeah, I think I’m doing that.”

Getting better with every match

Muguruza, like all of the elite eight at the WTA Finals, struggled to gain comfort playing in the altitude at Guadalajara. She wasn’t at her best in her first round robin match, a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(6) loss to Karolina Pliskova, but used that experience to find what works for her in challenging mile-high conditions.

“I feel like I’ve struggled the first couple of matches,” she said. “One, I didn’t find the way. The other one, I did. All of those circumstances help you to find the way, the way to play here, to find your shots, to serve, to have a game plan.

“Because I struggled and went through the tough times, it’s like a little progression, you know? Sometimes it’s not like that. Sometimes it goes just worse. I feel like in this time it really helped me. Those first matches, two hours and a half on court fighting, trying to find a way, I think it paid off today a little bit in terms of a feeling. I’m like, ‘Okay, I know the altitude by now. I’ve spent many hours on the court.’ I think, ‘Okay, I feel much better.'”

A tough loss for Badosa, but much to look forward to

Badosa was no match for Muguruza on Tuesday, but the rising Spaniard has so much to be excited about after a breakout season. Her compatriot Muguruza was quick to point that out at the beginning of her press conference.

“Very proud of Paula,” she said. “She started the year far in the rankings, and now she’s a top-10 player. Very impressive. She deserves a very well rest. Very happy for her year.”

Badosa, who finished 2020 at No 70 in the WTA rankings, says that her big results in 2021 will help her to have more confidence as she moves forward.

“It was like very new for me, all these situations, being on these rounds, playing in front of a lot of people,” she said of reaching the semis at Madrid and the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros. “Everything was really big at the beginning of the season, having these results. I think now I quite feel it’s more like normal and I’m getting used to it. I think that will help me for next year as well if I want to do big things.”

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