French Open 2016 Final: Serena Williams vs Garbine Muguruza, where to watch live and preview
This is a final that we have already witnessed once, albeit on a different surface at a different tournament and on a vastly different occasion. While Serena Williams was chasing her 21st Slam title at the 2015 Wimbledon, Garbine Muguruza was a novice that day. It was her very first taste of what it feels like to be in a Major final even though she did impress towards the fag end of the match.
Less than 12 months later, they are now meeting on another surface. Muguruza is now far more experienced than what she was then while Williams is desperately looking to end her Slam drought.
On paper, because of her plethora of records and titles, Serena should be the heavy favourite but form-wise, it is the Spaniard who has an edge. They had a contrasting start to their respective Roland Garros campaigns this year. It was Muguruza who was flirting with disaster in her opening match against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. She was pushed by the Slovak until she re-discovered herself and her best tennis once more.
The young challenger
The 22-year-old did not drop a single set afterwards en route to today’s title clash. Fitness-wise, she is in a great phase of her career right now. Her 2016 season did not begin auspiciously and it was quite a disappointment seeing the talented Spaniard failing to live up to her promise.
Controlling emotions on-court had been her Achilles Heel which she now claims to have overcome.
“I have learned a lot how to control my emotions inside the court and outside the court. I think it’s very important, because sometimes it’s not too good to show them or to not be in control of them.”
And that is what helped her to have clarity in her thought process under pressure. The improvements were evident as she reached her first semi-final of the year at Rome just a week before coming to Paris.
Of course, she now has the biggest challenge that a women’s tennis player of the current generation ever has to face – Serena Williams. After slumping to surprising defeats at the US Open and the Australian Open, the 34-year-old legend will be doubly motivated to lay her hands on the much-coveted 22nd Major trophy that will tie her with Steffi Graf.
The fierce veteran
Serena has no dearth of self-belief and her ability to rise to the occasion has been incomparable. But where she can have a chink in her armour is her fitness. The three-time French Open winner has been looking a tad slow on the foot lately and has even struggled to find her usual rhythm in her last two matches.
Due to incessant rainfall in Paris, quite a few matches have been pushed back and the top seed is one of the unfortunate players who had to bear the brunt. She had to play for three days in a row that is definitely taking a toll on her.
She reluctantly admitted to having an issue with her adductor and that is surely one of the prime reasons why she looked out-of-sorts against Yulia Putintseva in her three set-quarter-finals victory.
Against the surprise semi-finalist Kiki Bertens too, she lagged behind many a time. What should be a cause of concern for the American is how she failed to protect her leads in the second set against both Putintseva and Bertens.
A recurrence of it will be tough to handle against someone as supremely confident as Muguruza. To add to Serena’s concerns, the Spaniard is fresher and well-rested than her.
The fourth seed’s serve has been working well and her backhands, especially the ones down the line, can wreak havoc on Serena if her movement is still hampered.
Returns will be a strong point for both in this match and will help to decide the outcome. If Mugurza can keep striking the ball with as much ferocity as she has shown in her last few matches, she definitely holds a chance to upset her mighty opponent. It is not an alien situation for her – she already has the experience of going one up on the World No. 1 at this venue when she inflicted a 6-2, 6-2 defeat on the American in the second round two years ago.
Muguruza needs to summon that courage and keep her lapses at bay. This is a huge window of opportunity for someone who had been anointed as the leader of the next generation for quite some time. A clear and calm head will present her with a golden opportunity to join Arantxa Sanchez Vicario as the only other woman to win the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.
And to do it, Muguruza has inspiration – a big one – from her own compatriot. She has spoken a lot about how much of a driving force Rafael Nadal has been to her career.
“But I caught more of Rafa when I was younger and like looking at him here, you know, every year winning, like, ‘No way! He did it again and he did it and he did it!’ So I think he inspired me more.”
A wrist injury might have stopped the nine-time champion’s quest for ‘La Decima’, but there might still be a Spaniard ruling Roland Garros in a few hours!
Prediction: Muguruza in three sets
French Open 2016 Final: Serena Williams vs Garbine Muguruza
TV Channel: Neo Prime
Match date: 04 June 2016, Sunday
Match time: 6.30 pm IST
Match Venue: Roland Garros, Paris
- They have faced each other 4 times.
- Williams has won 3 of those matches while Muguruza has won just one.