Muguruza conquers Serena to clinch French Open crown (Special to IANS)

Paris, June 4 (IANS) Spanish tennis player Garbine Muguruza beat World No.1 and defending champion Serena Williams 7-5, 6-4 to win her maiden Grand Slam crown at the French Open here on Saturday.

With this win, four different women have won the last four slams. Serena was looking for a 22nd Grand Slam which would have equalled the Open Era record of Steffi Graf. The opponent was looking for her first Grand Slam title. It was a familiar story as at Melbourne when Angelique Kerber stunned the World No.1. On this occasion it was the tall powerful Spaniard who came through the tough test.

Muguruza, 22, is the first Spanish woman to win here since Arantxa Sánchez Vicario beat Monica Seles in the final in 1998 and will rise to No.2 in the rankings.

Moreover, she becomes the youngest first-time Major winner since Victoria Azarenka at the 2012 Australian Open.

In the first set of the final, Muguruza started strong as she had at Wimbledon in 2015. She had led 3-1 only to lose 4-6, 4-6. This time, with the experience behind her, she was able to stay strong. Despite losing her lead at 4-2, she staved off two breakpoints to serve out the first set 7-5 coming up with the big serves when needed.

When she broke to start the second set, it looked like she would run away with the match. But the double fault menace struck again for Muguruza who made a total of nine on the day. Three double faults in four points and it was back level at 1-1.

However, she controlled her emotions to break Williams again with some powerful returns and ground strokes. The pace and depth of Muguruza’s ground strokes had Serena on the back foot and she was caught on the wrong foot many times.

She was forced into many errors. Serena’s grunting grew louder as she tried to increase the pace of her ground strokes to counter Muguruza’s. But that proved to be of no avail.

Muguruza maintained the lead reaching 5-3 serving two aces. Then there was a long dramatic game which saw championship points come and go. Serena was at her best staving off match points with big serves and ground strokes. But Muguruza retained her composure to win the match on a perfectly timed stroke that found the baseline to leave the 32-year-old stranded.

(S. Rajesh is a Chennai-based journalist. He can be contacted at srinrajesh@yahoo.com)

–IANS

rajesh/pur/bg

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