5 Jun 2016

Muguruza overpowers Williams

7:45 am on 5 June 2016

Rising Spanish tennis player Garbine Muguruza is the new French Open women's champion.

The fourth seed upset the holder, the American great Serena Williams, in straight sets in the final in Paris, to achieve the rare feat of overpowering the world No.1 to claim her maiden grand slam title

Garbine Muguruza is the 2016 French Open women's champion

Garbine Muguruza is the 2016 French Open women's champion Photo: Photosport

Muguruza won the final 7-5 6-4.

The 22-year-old, who lost to Williams in last year's Wimbledon final, became the first Spaniard to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in 1998.

"This is the big tournament in Spain and Rafa (Nadal) is our champion," she said courtside, referring to the nine-times men's winner who pulled out injured last week.

Although her hard-hitting game seems more suited to faster surfaces, Muguruza won 14 consecutive sets en route to the final after losing her opening set of the tournament.

A self-confessed anxious player, she managed her emotions on Court Philippe Chatrier, saving six of eight break points against Williams, who had only lost only four of her 26 previous major singles finals.

It was Muguruza's first final on the slow surface and she relied on a powerful first serve and jaw-dropping winners down the line to subdue the American in a battle of will.

Tipped for greatness

Considering she won her maiden grand slam title on the surface that suits her game the least, Muguruza is being tipped as the player who will end up ruling women's tennis.

On Monday, Muguruza, whose hard-hitting game is at its devastating best on fast courts, will be second in the WTA rankings going into the grass season.

"My dream is to continue and win more tournaments, similar tournaments, and to dominate," the Venezuela-born Muguruza told reporters after her 7-5 6-4 victory on Court Philippe Chatrier.

"When I am on the court I want to dictate my game and bring more of these cups back home... This win is like a new pulse given to women's tennis," added the Spaniard, who became the second player after Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber to beat Williams in a grand slam final this year.

Muguruza, who had never won a title on clay before now, proved that she had very few weak points as she kept Williams on the run throughout the final.

Her powerful first serve allows her to dictate play from the baseline and she spanks winners with her forehand or backhand with equal ease.

Muguruza also learnt to control her emotions, which overwhelmed her in last year's Wimbledon final.

"I'm convinced she was panicking a bit in the inside, but she managed these moments very well," said her coach, Frenchman Sam Sumyk, who also guided Belarussian Victoria Azarenka to her first major title at the 2012 Australian Open, and to the top of the world rankings.

She had four match points on Williams's serve, which the American saved, but Muguruza ended the contest on her fifth attempt with a lob that landed on the baseline.

"She's number two after this, only one more step to be number one and I am sure she's going to win many more grand slams," former Spanish player Conchita Martinez, the 1994 Wimbledon champion and 2000 Roland Garros runner-up, told reporters.

"She's a great player on any surface, she is a complete player. Spain is very lucky to have this unbelievable tennis player."

Williams, who was aiming to equal Steffi Graf's professional-era record of 22 majors, was the favourite to win her third Paris title in four years but she fell one win short of the target --just as she had done at the Australian Open in January.

Her coach, however, warned that the 34-year-old Williams would stay on Muguruza's radar for quite some time.

"It shows how hard it is to win a grand slam, to equal records. It will take the time it will take, it was tough to win the 17th, the 18th, it will be hard to win the 22nd and the 23rd but we will do it," Patrick Mouratoglou told reporters.

"It's a matter of time."

-Reuters