Garbine Muguruza ‘happy’ to steal the Spain spotlight from Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon
Garbine Muguruza is happy to steal the spotlight from fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal as the French Open champion sets her sights on a return to the Wimbledon final.
Nadal’s exploits traditionally claim the attention of tennis fans in Spain and across the world, but the 14-time grand slam winner is absent from Wimbledon this year due to the left wrist injury that forced him to pull out of the French Open.
Muguruza’s shock French Open final victory over world No 1 Serena Williams brought her a first grand slam title at the venue where Nadal has won nine times.
Nadal’s decline has coincided with the rise of Muguruza and the 22-year-old, whose engaging personality seems ready-made for celebrity, appears to be relishing the limelight.
“I thought about that the other day when I saw that Rafa was not playing,” Muguruza said.
“For sure, people are looking more at what I’m doing, will be watching me more.
“That’s fine. It’s a good sign. I like it. I’ll try to do my best.
“I was so happy, finally this year, I did better than Nadal in French Open. I’m like, ‘this is so weird’.”
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Muguruza arrived to her press conference proudly wearing the red shirt of the Spain national football team and revealed she has been eagerly following their progress at Euro 2016.
Spain face Italy in the last 16 on Monday, and Muguruza will be tuning in if she’s not on court at Wimbledon.
“In Spain, if you don’t follow football, you’re dead. You don’t have conversation,” she said.
“Everybody is like, Did you see that goal? If I miss a goal, I cannot talk.
“I think Spain has a great team.
“I just have to show a little bit of my support by wearing the Spanish jersey.”
Muguruza said her French Open triumph has been a huge boost to her confidence after some erratic performances this year.
In the 12 months since she was beaten by Williams in last year’s Wimbledon final, Muguruza has lost seven times to players ranked outside the world’s top 40, but success at Roland Garros confirmed her as the most exciting young talent in the women’s game.
“Nothing has changed for me. I’m actually thinking that it’s weird to be back here because of last year, not because I won a grand slam just two weeks ago,” she said.
“I was very relaxed (after Paris). I tried to not get crazy. I didn’t do a lot of things, just went home for a couple days
“I just have a good feeling, that I’m playing good, I won a lot of confidence.
“But just because I won the French Open doesn’t mean I’m going to come here and win every match.”
Venezuela-born Muguruza’s Wimbledon preparations have been less than ideal as she was beaten in the first round of her only warm-up tournament at last week’s Mallorca Open by Kirsten Flipkens.
Even taking last year’s run to the final into consideration, she still finds grass a tricky surface to master.
“It’s obviously very hard. I think it’s one of the most difficult switch of surface,” she said.
“When I was younger, a lot of people were saying I would play good on grass.
“In time, I agree. I think my style of game helps. But I don’t feel yet it’s my comfort zone. “
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Updated: June 25, 2016 04:00 AM