INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - ?After winning through a marathon, 25-shot rally, Garbi?e?Muguruza threw her head back and raised a fist in the air. It was match point against Kiki Bertens, and the point sealed the biggest win of the season for the former World No.1.
After showing signs of her best tennis all week long, No.20 seed Muguruza had confirmed her resurgence at the BNP Paribas Open, recording a comeback?stunner to knock out the No.7 seeded Kiki Bertens.
It was a statement win for a variety of reasons: it was Muguruza’s first completed match win over a Top 10 player since Dubai 2018, and, perhaps more tellingly, her first time reaching a Premier Mandatory quarterfinal since 2017.
“I think it was a very tough match. I think we both played well,” Muguruza told press at Indian Wells after the win. Muguruza dropped a close opening set after having dominated?for most of it, but responded like a champion to complete the comeback, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.
“Every rally was very intense, was very long. Basically until the end of the match, any of us could win. And I'm happy about the level I played, and also how I managed the intensity of the game and not let drop, basically, nothing during the whole match.”
As a player who seeking to regain the match fitness and winning mentality that saw her claim Grand Slam crowns at the French Open and Wimbledon, Muguruza was the first to admit that being able to gut out the win over Bertens was huge for her confidence.
“It's very important. It's a very big tournament,” Muguruza acknowledged. “Doesn't matter at which stage of the year, but the fact that I keep playing top players and it's always good. That's what I'm looking for.
“I gave myself another chance to play another match, another match here, and go deeper and deeper. That's what I want, honestly, to play a lot of matches, to face the best players, and to keep up a good level.”
Keeping up ‘a good level’ has always been the ultimate?goal for Muguruza, a player whose career highs have often been punctuated with crushing lows: after her 2016 Roland Garros triumph, she failed to reach another final for over a year. That next final? The 2017 Wimbledon championship match, where she triumphed over Venus Williams to claim a second career Grand Slam title.
Despite the ups and downs, she’s hardly a veteran at 25 years old, and it’s still mind blowing for the Spaniard to hear that there are young, up-and-coming players who have grown up watching her compete. Muguruza have to face one such player in the next round as Bianca Andreescu awaits in the quarterfinals.
The 18-year-old Canadian is through to her maiden Premier Mandatory quarterfinal after taking down No.18 Wang Qiang along the way, and was eager to test her giant-slaying tennis against Muguruza next. “I have watched her play many times on TV, so it's just crazy to think that I'll be competing against her,” Andreescu gushed in press.
“I saw her play. I think she's playing very well since the start of this year,” Muguruza acknowledged. “I don't know a lot about her. I think she's -- well, not around for a long time, so she's starting to play better and better. Yeah, it's going to be exciting.
“I think she's having more and more confidence, because she's beating very good players. I think she has a strong physique and a good mover. I will watch a little more [of her matches].”
Muguruza and Andreescu will take the court tomorrow on Stadium 1, contesting the second match of the day at the BNP Paribas Open.