She's been in this place many times before. The injuries and the lackluster play, but Garbine Muguruza can be mentally strong even when her physical game is not. Wimbledon holds a special place in her heart especially a few years ago.
It was a desperate time back then that her coach Sam Smyzk wasn't able to be there physically for her. She called on the longtime friendship of Wimbledon champ Conchita Martinez to counsel and coach her on the do's and don'ts of grass play at Wimbledon.
She listened. She gave her comments and was able to take instructions to win her first Wimbledon title in 2017. But somehow the tour has diluted Muguruza's game and the results are showing. Garbine Muguruza once in the top 10 has now slipped to no.
27 in the ranking. She was able to go deep three months ago and get into the Monterrey Open final against a tough competitor, Victoria Azarenka. Muguruza won the first set and led in the second when Azarenka had an injury and forfeit the title to the Spaniard.
They met again at the Italian Open with the reversal results this time Muguruza had to retire with a back injury. She is holding steady at trying to go the distance at least into the four and quarterfinal rounds but this wasn't the case at this Wimbledon Championships.
The opening round at Wimbledon, Garbine Muguruza was to face Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil. It might be looked at as a routine win for Muguruza since ranked in the top 30s and Maia is in the 100s. But it wasn't. There is some strength in being an underdog and Maia had that on her side.
Muguruza last time on the court was the fourth round against Sloane Stephens at Roland Garros which she lost. It was just two weeks ago she had to retire with a leg injury from the Wimbledon warm-up at Birmingham. A bit weary Muguruza's game showed the vulnerability.
Haddad Maia came out forceful and aggressive, something that Muguruza is used to doing under better conditions. The Spaniard did grab eight of nine points in the first set but Haddad Maia had more going on with her game. She manipulated the rallies cross courting Muguruza and then waiting for the unforced error gifts to appear on her opponent's side.
Haddad Maia played superbly as there wasn't a slight notion of her back surgery she had undergone last year. She appeared fearless and through the year had comeback power from being in the no. 200s to now ranked 121 and counting down.
The Brazilian had the skill to mix up her shots with dropping them and blasting them that Muguruza couldn't handle. The first set had gone to her and the second wasn't that much better on Muguruza's side. The Spaniard did have a slight resurgence and reeled off 5 consistent points but Haddad Maia was right there putting her energies on the court.
She had eight double faults but blended her game up with seven aces. But despite her opponent's struggle for respectability, Muguruza gifted Haddad Maia with a few double faults which gave the Brazilian the set and the match 6-4, 6-4.
This was the first time that Garbine Muguruza lost in the opening round of a slam since 2014 and hopefully with tightening up her strategies and staying healthy, she may bounce back to the Muguruza everyone knew at Wimbledon a few years ago.