Matured Muguruza learning to fully appreciate moments—even in defeat

Matured Muguruza learning to fully appreciate moments—even in defeat

"When you are young you are more sensitive to defeat, you suffer much more. There is no secret to doing it, but it is true that during the years you begin to handle defeats much better,” the 2020 Australian Open finalist told El Tiempo.

A resurgent Garbine Muguruza is looking to pick up where she left off when the tour starts again. 

The two-time Grand Slam champion reached the final of the Australian Open at the beginning of the season, the first time she's been that far in a major since 2017. 

Though she fell to Sofia Kenin, the 26-year-old told El Tiempo she's gotten better at bouncing back from defeats than at the beginning of her career. 

"When you are young, you are more sensitive to defeat, you suffer much more. There is no secret to doing it, but it is true that during the years you begin to handle defeats much better,” Muguruza said. "The years have helped me. This does not mean that losing doesn’t affect me, I just needed more days to recover."

That's also allowed her to look at her Melbourne run as a positive.

"The hardest defeats are those that occur in Grand Slams," she said. "Maturity has helped me appreciate them too—in Australia this year I understood that it was a special moment. My rival deserved to win more, but that doesn't mean I have to stop enjoying the moment of reaching a Grand Slam final, or that the tournament was bad."

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But with tour competition since suspended by the coronavirus pandemic, she hasn't been able to build on her showing at Melbourne—yet. But Muguruza has been training hard during the break, looking to return towards the top of the game again. 

"If I want to get up there and stay there, I have to work harder and do things better, and that is only achieved with discipline," she said.

Her coach, former Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez, has helped her fin that consistency. The pair had worked together during Muguruza's 2017 title victory at the All England Club, and picked up their partnership again during the 2019 off-season, turning around a long slide in her play in between.

"Conchita understands me as a coach because she was an excellent player," she said. "Our collaboration is very good. I need less and less words for her to understand me, the sign that this is a good collaboration."

Muguruza's first Grand Slam victory was at the 2016 French Open.

"The memories of my final against Serena [Williams] in Roland Garros are really special," she said. "In my point of view, she is the best player in history, one of the best rivals anyone can have.

"I always dreamed of playing that tournament. It was very special to conquer my first Grand Slam there."

This month, Muguruza is scheduled to return in New York at the relocated Cincinnati event, followed by the US Open. Ranked No. 16, she has seven career titles.