When the season began in January, all eyes were on Garbiñe Muguruza, and most of them liked what they saw.

The previous fall, the 22-year-old Spaniard had hired a new coach in Sam Sumyk, and by year’s end she had shot up to No. 3 in the rankings. Muguruza had the height, she had the power, she had a star’s self-assurance, she had a win over Serena, she’d reached a Wimbledon final, and she was entering her prime: If anyone on the WTA tour was going to break through and win her first Grand Slam in 2016, it was going to be her.

Then 2016 began and the Muguruza rocket took a steep and immediate nosedive. All of the promise of the fall now appeared to be a mirage. The deep runs at big events gave way to early losses. The self-assurance and star quality were replaced by a puzzling listlessness. And instead of singing Sumyk’s praises, as she had in 2015, Muguruza was aiming sarcastic comments—such as the now-infamous “tell me something I don’t know”—at him in public.

But if we’ve learned anything about the top players in this roller-coaster WTA season, it’s that while peaks lead to valleys, valleys will lead back to peaks. Serena Williams excepted, whoever’s up will soon be down, and whoever’s down will soon be up.

Take Muguruza and Angelique Kerber. While Muguruza was sleepwalking through a third-round loss at the Australian Open, Kerber was coming from virtually nowhere to win the year’s first major. Five months later, at the year’s second major, their fortunes have been reversed. The third-seeded Kerber went out in her opening match, while Muguruza, after an impressively stubborn and clutch 7-5, 6-3 win over Shelby Rogers on Wednesday, is into her first French Open semifinal.

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Just don’t try to tell Muguruza that anything has changed over the last few weeks. According to her, while the game we saw might have been ugly and raw at times, behind the scenes everything was going according to plan.

Two weeks ago, after reaching the semifinals in Rome, Muguruza was asked if it was a “magical” week for her after such a rough early road in 2016.

“I don’t think it’s a slow start to the season,” she said. “Obviously I didn’t have the results I had last year, but I’m doing exactly the same: practicing hard, getting ready and fit [to] have good results.

"I don’t think it’s magical. I have been doing everything I can since the start of the year, but sometimes you don’t find the results you want.”

So maybe there was no reason to worry about Muguruza’s motivation, or her seemingly rocky relationship with Sumyk.

“It going great,” Muguruza said this week of their work together. “He’s a very professional person ... He knows all the good parts and bad parts [of life at the top], and that’s what I needed.”

Muguruza, it seems, is still learning the Top 5 ropes, the biggest and most difficult of which is consistency from week to week. It's so difficult, in fact, that not many players in the current WTA Top 5 have it down.

Watching Muguruza, it’s often easy to see from the outset of a match whether she’s going to have a good day or a bad day; or, in the case of someone as talented and mercurial as she is, a brilliant day or an awful one. If Muguruza looks focused and reliable in the early stages of a match, she tends to stay that way, and tends to find a way to win. If she looks uncertain early, she tends to stay that way as well.

Judging by comments Muguruza made earlier this week, she knows this about herself.

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“It’s the same as before,” she said, referring to the unpredictable nature of the sport. “Even though I’m more of a favorite, I can lose two days ago.”

Yet Muguruza hasn’t been in any serious danger of losing in Paris. She has dropped one set so far, to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round. But even in that one, I that Muguruza had her “I’ll find a way to win” game face on. I had that same feeling on Wednesday, even after she went down an early break to Rogers.

In this match, it wasn't how Muguruza started, but how she closed: She allowed herself to walk to the brink of defeat, but no farther.

In the first set, Rogers seemed destined to serve it out at 5-4. The American, in control of the rallies, had held four straight times without much drama; now she was one point from doing it again. Down set point, though, Muguruza suddenly took control of a point and ended it with a swing-volley winner. At deuce, she came up with the shot of the day, a defensive lob that landed near the baseline and won her the point. From there, Muguruza broke, held and broke again for the set.

“Most of the time you’re familiar with your opponents,” Muguruza said of the 108th-ranked Rogers, “but I didn’t know her. Gradually, I felt her better on court. In the first set I calmed down and said to myself, ‘Let’s dictate play.’ That’s what I did.”

Chalk it up to good strategy, I guess. What Muguruza really did was find the shots that separate her, the world No. 4, from the world No. 108.

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Muguruza continued to dictate through the first three games of the second set, but Rogers found a second wind and leveled it at 3-3. When Rogers pummeled a backhand return to make the score 15-15, it looked like she might take the lead. But Muguruza, the reliable Muguruza, had the answer. She hit an ace for 30-15, won a point with her defense for 40-15 and held with a service winner. From 4-3, she won eight straight points for the match.

Were we right about Muguruza all along? Is she going to break through and win a Slam this year? She was clear afterward that while this may be her first semifinal appearance in Paris, she’s not satisfied. The best part of getting to a Grand Slam final when you’re 22 is that nothing less will do.

“I definitely want to keep going,” she said with a vigorous nod in her post-match interview.

Maybe Muguruza, a player who is very good on the right day, and not so good on the wrong one, is an appropriate champion for this topsy-turvy WTA season.

Or maybe it’s all just part of the master plan.

Sumyk, Muguruza said on Wednesday, is trying to teach her some of his native French, but so far it has been slow going.

“Seriously, it’s a disaster,” she said.

Stick with the program, Garbiñe. If your season is any indication, you’ll get it eventually.