MONTERREY, April 8, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
Garbiñe Muguruza successfully defended her Abierto GNP Seguros hard court singles title in Monterrey, Mexico, on Sunday evening. However, the No. 2 seed’s first title win this year and seventh overall was anti-climatic as her opponent was unable to finish.
The 19th-ranked Spaniard was ahead 6-1, 3-1 against No. 5 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who was attempting to garner her first WTA title since winning the 2016 Miami Open. Up to the final, the 67th-ranked Azarenka had been enjoying arguably her best week on tour since the birth of her son Leo in December of 2016. She was playing in her first final since returning from maternity and had advanced with her first Top 5 win a night earlier against top seed Angelique Kerber of Germany.
Unfortunately, Azarenka was forced to abandon the final against Muguruza following the fourth game of the second set because of an injury to her right leg, which was heavily taped following a medical time out between sets. It was Muguruza’s 10th straight Monterrey victory since last year and it earned her first-prize money of $43,000 (U.S. dollars) and 280 WTA rankings points.
What started as a battle between two former No. 1 players, who had each won two Grand Slams, ended after 66 minutes when it became impossible for Azarenka to continue playing without pain. Before Azarenka’s retirement, Muguruza had hit 16 winners and converted four of 10 break-point opportunities. Meanwhile, Azarenka’s 22 unforced errors overshadowed her 13 winners. She was zero-for-six in break-point opportunities, all of them in the first set.
“Thank you for your passion, support and energy,” said an emotional Azarrenka in addressing the Estadio GNP Seguros crowd, which gave the former two-time Australian Open champion a passionate reception during the trophy presentation. Azarenka, who will move up to No. 67 in the new rankings, choked back tears as she attempted to finish her speech. Fans began to chant, “Vika, Vika, Vika …” Azarenka wiped her eyes and said, “It’s a very special week I’m going to remember for a long time. … It’s unfortunate I couldn’t give my best today, but I tried my hardest.”
By reaching her first final of the year – and winning it – Muguruza became the 16th different winner of a WTA Tour event this season. She’ll move up one spot to No. 18 in the rankings. During the trophy presentation, she thanked the audience in both English and Spanish.
“First, I want to thank Victoria for a great level of tennis,” said Muguruza in English, praising her fallen opponent. “I know this is a bittersweet moment, but hopefully you can recover soon – and I will see you soon in the next tournament. Also, my team, we share this trophy together. Thank you for your support.”
American pair wins doubles title
Asia Muhammad and Maria Sanchez, both of the United States, defeated the Australian duo Monique Adamczak and Jessica Moore, 7-6 (2), 6-4, to win the Abierto GNP Seguros doubles title. It was Muhammad’s fourth doubles title and the third for Sanchez. The American pair is ranked 119th.