Sunday, January 25, 2015

AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Conchita sees Muguruza as a Slam contender in 2015

Former Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez believes her fellow Spaniard Garbine Muguruza is ready to be a grand slam contender this season, saying a Eugenie Bouchard-like breakthrough could be in the cards for her.

Martinez, who as Spain’s Fed Cup captain has been supporting Muguruza at her matches this week in Melbourne, was impressed by her three-set win over Timea Bacsinszky in the third round on Saturday and sees the 21-year-old as a real threat at the majors in 2015.

Why not? Look at (Eugenie) Bouchard. I don’t know if we could have considered her a grand slam contender last year. But she was in the semi-finals here, and Roland Garros, and the final at Wimbledon… I don’t see any difference there,” Martinez tells me of the Venezuelan-born Spaniard. “I believe she has a good chance. It might happen, it might not, but she has the potential (to be a grand slam contender this year) yes.”

Muguruza, who conquered Serena Williams at the French Open last year en route to the quarter-finals there, has a rematch with the world No1 in the fourth round on Monday.

Williams has not shown her best tennis in opening week Down Under but has been raising her level with each round, while Muguruza has been solid so far.

Martinez sees Muguruza’s previous upset over Williams as a source of self-belief heading into tomorrow’s clash.

I think mentally it helps you always that you broke through and you won that match at the French Open. It will give her the extra confidence that she needs,” said the 1994 Wimbledon winner.

I think she’s very confident in herself anyway. Serena is going to be hungry and she can be dangerous but she’s going to have to do everything really good because Garbine is going to be up there and she’s the kind of person that likes these matches. It’s going to be an interesting match.”

Muguruza has been rising up the rankings since she picked up her maiden WTA title in Hobart 12 months ago and now lies at No24 in the world. Her fearless attacking style has attracted many fans and Martinez explains how her popularity has been growing.

I think she’s very popular. For her tennis, and also when you’re tall, good-looking, you play that type of game, I think that people are drawn to that,” said Martinez. “I think she’s well-known, not only in Spain, but of course Venezuela and the whole wide world. Because everybody sees the potential that she has and she is capable to be up there in the rankings.”

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