Garbine Muguruza is ending the year with a bang…
The 28-year-old Spanish Venezuelan tennis player defeated Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 7-5 to win the WTA Finals title for the first time in her career and improve her record playing in Mexico to 14 wins and two losses.
Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario was a runner-up two times, the last time in 1993.
Muguruza’s past successes in Mexico motivated her to play in the WTA Finals. In the ceremony after winning the title, she recalled telling WTA CEO Steve Simon at the US Open that she wanted to play again south of the Rio Grande.
“To qualify, the whole year with my team, I was saying to them, ‘It’s in Mexico, we have to make it, c’mon.’ It was my biggest motivation,” Muguruza said.
The former No. 1-ranked Muguruza, who was a semifinalist in the WTA Finals in 2015, also became the oldest champion since Serena Williams won it in 2014 and will finish the season at No. 3 in the rankings, her best performance since 2017.
Muguruza was backed the whole week by a raucous crowd who gathered at Estadio Akron to cheer and clap for her as if she were one of their own.
“It’s funny, the other day I was speaking with my manager. … He was like, ‘You know what, for the first time, Garbine, you’re really using the crowd, really getting that energy and using it on the court. You should do that more often,'” said Muguruza, who entered the Estadio Akron wearing a Mexico soccer team jersey for her last two matches.
“I think a big lesson to me is I should get the energy from the environment. I’m very supported here in Mexico. I don’t know if it will be everywhere, but I used it this week for sure.”
Despite the loss, Kontaveit, who moved from No. 30 in the rankings into the top 10 in the past few months, is projected to finish at No. 7 in the rankings.
Muguruza took control early in the match with three breaks against an erratic Kontaveit, who played better in the second and got a break in the ninth, but the Spaniard broke the Estonian’s next two serves to win it.
The WTA Finals were played in Guadalajara for this year only, with the event scheduled to return in 2022 to Shenzhen, China.