World No.2 Garbiñe Muguruza lifted her first major title just two weeks ago at Roland Garros and the 22-year-old Spaniard is set to return to Wimbledon where she finished as runner-up last year. But just how far can she go? The question was put to Chris Evert during an ESPN conference call with reporters on Tuesday.
“I mean, who is going to be next, the next No.1 player, after Serena is gone? You’ve got to put your money on Muguruza because first of all, you have to have power in today’s game.”
While Muguruza became the third consecutive first-time Grand Slam winner, it’s the Spaniard’s power, Evert contends, that separates her from the field of rising WTA stars.
“When I look at the next three, I look at Radwanska, Kerber and Halep. I don’t think either of those three are going to end up No.1 in the world. They don’t have that sort of overwhelming power. Muguruza does have it, very much like Serena, following in her footsteps.
“Muguruza, she still has to mature a little bit. She’s still young. She still has to probably get a little more consistent with her results in the smaller tournaments. But when I look at winning Grand Slams, you’d have to say Muguruza, you’d have to look at Madison Keys, Victoria Azarenka, and Petra Kvitova – the power players more now more so than the consistent counter-punchers.”
While the expectations remain lofty for Muguruza, Evert also tempered expectations, citing the difficulties of making the immediate adjustment from clay to grass. There’s a reason why only seven players have won the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. Muguruza played one grass court tournament before Wimbledon, losing in the opening round to former Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens at the Mallorca Open.
“She’s come a long way,” Evert said. “I think she’s going to have a tough Wimbledon. It’s very hard to carry that momentum. Very few people have won the French and Wimbledon back-to-back, especially at that young of an age.
“That will be a real curiosity for me if she can carry that momentum and confidence and do well, think about last year reaching the finals, or is she going to have a hard time resetting, especially in dealing with people’s expectations.”