With a lot of the focus on Novak Djokovic’s surprisingly straightforward loss to Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros, his coaching partnership with Agassi and his prep for Wimbledon, little has been spoken about the vanquished defending Roland Garros women’s singles champion- Garbine Muguruza. The Spaniard was at the receiving end of some brutal treatment from the French crowd during her fourth round exit to French hope Kristina Mladenovic, which literally left her in tears during her presser.
Speaking of the French crowd, they are well known for being quite vocal about their support. Ask players who face the likes of Tsonga or Monfils at the French Open. The crowd does get involved when a French man or woman is playing, creating a Davis Cup type feel. But the Suzanne-Lenglen crowd took it too far. Playing in front of the home crowd for sure has its own share of perks and disadvantages- just ask Caroline Garcia! But to treat a champion this way was indeed shameful. Muguruza on the other hand needs to respond well to this situation. At least she has the “DEFENDING FRENCH OPEN champion” moniker off her back, which should help her play with lesser pressure.
She can be dangerous on grass when in form as in Wimbledon 2015 where she finished as the runner up. But she can also have one of her erratic days, a sign of which was her second round loss last year to Jana Cepalova in straight sets. So a confidence boosting run at Wimbledon is still a possibility! However, it may solely depend on how she comes back after her tough time in Paris. Following her loss, she voiced her opinion about the match:
“I think the crowd today was a little bit obviously tough for me. I just think that they were a little bit, sometimes should be a little bit more respectful… The chair umpire has to always calm the crowd down. I think the audience was really tough today. I can’t really understand”,she said. “If you had been in my shoes on the court, I think you would have understood.”
Muguruza did not shy from venting her frustration at the crowd during the match. Following the defeat she exited the court and wagged her finger at the spectators who cheered her off. Despite this debacle, the Spaniard ensured that no love was lost for the French Open and that she was looking forward to playing here next year as well. “I love this tournament no matter what happens. I’m going to be super happy to come back,” Muguruza concluded. “It’s gonna sound weird, but I’m actually happy that this stage of the year is done, because I wanted to go as far as possible. But even if I didn’t, I think I’m going to feel much better now to continue the year, and everybody is going to stop bothering me asking me about this tournament, so it’s going to be a little bit like… whew, let’s keep going.”
While it may still be early to draw any conclusions about her current state of mind or her game, she did make it to the semi-finals in Birmingham before squandering a one set lead to young Aussie Ashleigh Barty. Having won just a single match on grass last season, she needed to get a few good matches under her belt in order to have some momentum with her before she heads to SW-19. Her next scheduled event is Eastbourne as she looks to build up this momentum before Wimbledon. She also has an experienced face in her box in the form of Sam Sumyk. A former coach to Victoria Azarenka, whom he led to two Australian Open titles (’12,’13) and two runner up finishes at the US Open (’12,’13), he also helped Muguruza to the French Open title. He was also quite vocal in slamming the French crowd following the incident:
Congrats to k. Mladenovic.@GarbiMuguruza very proud of you.Never simple to be defending champion.To the French crowd, pathetic, no class!!
— Sam Sumyk (@SamSumyk) June 4, 2017
Muguruza on any given day can sweep anyone off the court with her brand of blistering tennis, although consistency remains the key issue for her. When in form she is tough to live with, but how she deals with the French Open drama and its scars if there are any during the upcoming fortnight remains to be seen! But like great champions do you would expect Muguruza to bounce back sooner rather than later!