Why we shouldn’t worry about Muguruza

This week in Wuhan Garbine Muguruza fell in the first round to Jelena Jankovic, a tournament that the Spaniard finished as runner up in 2015.  

The defeat was her 7th in 15 matches since her breakthrough French Open victory, and fans on social media and tennis forums have unkindly started to refer to her as ‘the new Ivanovic’, who has had a nightmare trying to live up to the champion status following her 2008 win at Roland Garros.

However, an analysis of debut Grand Slam winners since Ivanovic shows that it is too hasty to refer to the Spaniard as anything like a one hit wonder.

 

Experience

Player Age at time of win Grand Slams after debut
Sharapova 17 years 2 months 7
S. Williams 17 years 11 months 8
Kuznetsova 19 years 2 months 12
V. Williams 20 years 0 months 14
Ivanovic 19 years 7 months 15
Kvitova 21 years 3 months 16
Muguruza 22 years 7 months 17
Clijsters 22 years 3 months 26
Azarenka 22 years 5 months 25
Li Na 29 years 3 months 30
Kerber 28 years 0 months 37
Stosur 27 years 5 months 40
Schiavone 29 years 11 months 43

Of recent Grand Slam winners Muguruza is the 9th youngest Grand Slam winner, so comparatively should not be considered a young player.  

However, her record of lifting a Grand Slam title after only 17 events shows her relative inexperience especially when compared to fellow 22 year old first time winners Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka – both of whom went on to compete and win more Grand Slam titles.

 

Performance in the 12 months following 1st Grand Slam victory

Player 12 month win rate after Slam Following Slam 12 month Average player ranking in defeat
V. Williams 89.28% W 12.66
Azarenka 82.19% 4R 9.38
Sharapova 81.33% 3R 17.28
Clijsters 77.41% SF 10.78
Kerber 74.13%* 1R 35.26*
Kvitova 73.58% 1R 35.92
S. Williams 66.20% 4R 15.62
Kuznetsova 65.57% QF 21.85
Ivanovic 64.28% 3R 40.13
Stosur 63.93% 1R 41.72
Li Na 63.04% 2R 21.41
Schiavone 60.78% 1R 27.9
Muguruza 53.33%* 2R 50.28*

*denotes that a full 12month period has not been completed.

It is easy to understand why there is concern over Muguruza’s form.  She has a win rate of 53.33% since winning Roland Garros losing to opponents that have an average ranking of 50.28 – the worst record of any champion.  

Understandably, the pressure of a first Grand Slam victory leads to a drop in performance by almost every player in their very next Slam appearance with 4 players losing in the first round.  Therefore Muguruza’s 2nd round Wimbledon exit shouldn’t be described as a great surprise.

 

When will Muguruza’s form improve?

Player Slams until next F Next tournament win GS SF or Finals after
V. Williams 1 1 event 12F 4SF
Kerber 2 7 events 2 F
Muguruza 2 and counting 7 and counting 0
Azarenka 3 1 event 3F 2SF
Schiavone 4 47 events 1 F
Kuznetsova 6 1 event 3F 1SF
Li Na 7 21 events 2F 1SF
S. Williams 8 1 event 27F 4SF
Sharapova 9 6 events 8F 10SF
Kvitova 12 6 events 1F 2SF
Clijsters 16 1 event 3F 5SF
Stosur 20 and counting 46 events 2 SF
Ivanovic 34 and counting 8 events 1SF

After 2 Slams it is too early to define Muguruza as the new Ivanovic, as has been popular on social media.  The Serbian French Open champion has played 34 Grand Slam tournaments since her 2008 victory and it seems highly unlikely she will ever contend for another major title.

Many debut champions follow up their success quickly by winning another event.  Muguruza’s form has been so poor that she hasn’t even come close.  It is not possible to say when exactly she will arrest her slump, but the average for the players considered is 12.16 tournaments, and she may even win again this year.

Long term Garbine’s chances of contending for another Slam title are good as even Ivanovic has appeared in the latter stages of a Grand Slam.   Excluding the phenomenal record of Serena Williams, the average Grand Slam champion features in a further 3 major finals and 2.3 semi finals.

 

Too soon to worry

I am certain that Muguruza will win more Slams.  

As I established in a previous article, there is a 3 year period when players tend to reappear in Grand Slam finals.  The Spaniard has limited major tournament experience and in this context it is unsurprising that she has not been competitive since.  It is however remarkable just how poor her form has been.

Whilst I understand the concern, it is far too soon to worry.
Article also featured on TennisNow.com

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