The last slam of the year, the U.S. Open everyone hangs on to that premise that it will be golden, it will be successful and prosperous. Garbine Muguruza had that thought too, but it didn't turn out that way. She'd gotten tangled up with Alison Riske in the first round and ended her Open run right there.
Looking back, the season was already filled with some ups and a lot of downs for the Spaniard who wanted to turn this season into a good thing. Unfortunately the Brisbane International, the warm-up to the Australian Open in January went sour.
She was forced to retire in the second round to Varvara Lepchenko, aggravating a long-standing foot injury. It was in April her good thing came in the respects of entering Monterrey to defend her 2018 title. She had crawled her way up to the final with Belarus' Victoria Azarenka.
Muguruza was crafty winning her first set then led in the second 3-1 when Azarenka had to retire due to a leg injury giving the Spaniard the Monterrey Open title. Some had inferred that it was a retirement that got Muguruza the title and not an all bang out match but she didn't care and knew that 'a win is a win'
"It's a great feeling to come back and defend a title. It's never easy," the Spaniard smilingly said. Afterwards her season wasn't much to laugh about as more than 5 tournaments she lost on opening rounds, not making it pass the quarterfinals of any event.
Matters went worse in July when after being with her coach Sam Sumyk for four years, she dismissed him after her first round loss at Wimbledon. It was two years ago Muguruza vividly remembers her win at Wimbledon when Sumyk couldn't be there and Conchita Martinez, a former Wimbledon champ pitch hit for Sumyk guiding Muguruza to win the grassy slam.
She, at times struggled to get wins saying "A few years ago it was different. You had a difference between top players and not top players...now you feel like if you're not 100% everyday..." The Spaniard's voice had trailed off to say you're going to lose.
The realization of a frustrating season dug into Muguruza after her first round loss at the U.S. Open to Alison Riske. She began to re-evaluate her rough tour with the last hope of making her mark at the Asian Swing. She was doing it all without a coach and felt still positive chances on victories.
"So far I'm looking forward to playing Asia, playing more tournaments...there's no rush for me on the coaching side..." But when the struggle for Muguruza got real and she bowing in the first and second rounds of the Japan, Wuhan and Beijing events, the Spaniard knew it was time to pack her rackets and end her season.
There was all out battles with Hsieh su-we, Elina Svitolina and Sofia Kenin proving to be tough competition. They have all raised their levels of play making it more difficult for her and so many players in general manage to come out with victories no matter what.
A new season with new aspirations may be waiting for Garbine Muguruza. All she knows is that it's a struggle because she says shaking her head "..everybody's playing great...everybody's a threat."