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Muguruza stuns Williams for first Grand Slam title

By Dan Imhoff   on   Saturday 04 June 2016
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Fourth seed Garbine Muguruza has upstaged defending champion Serena Williams in straight sets to earn her first Grand Slam singles title at Roland-Garros.

Garbine Muguruza is a Grand Slam champion for the first time after dethroning No.1 seed and defending champion Serena Williams in the Roland-Garros final on Saturday.

The 22-year-old, seeded No.4 in Paris, prevailed 7-5, 6-4 with her defeat of the American – her second at Roland-Garros having sent her packing in the second round two years ago – denying Williams the chance to tie Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles.

She becomes the youngest first-time major winner since Victoria Azarenka at the 2012 Australian Open and is the third straight first-time winner in as many major finals, following in the footsteps of Flavia Pennetta at last year’s US Open and Angelique Kerber at the Australian Open in January.

The Venezuelan-born Spaniard cited Kerber's extraordinary upset of Williams in the Australian Open final in January as instilling further belief.

"Yeah, I thought about it," Muguruza said. "When you see people that are winning and there's new faces, it makes you think like, I can be one of those faces ... Hey, if Kerber can I can, or whoever is there. Yeah, for sure, it helps to see new faces."

Having fallen to Williams in last year’s Wimbledon final, Muguruza showed no signs of nerves early on in her second major final, picking up where she left off against Sam Stosur as she thumped winners into the corners to surge into a 4-2 lead. While the top seed would secure the break back, Muguruza broke again at 5-5 to serve for the opening set.

"I still had another chance serving, and even after. I just tried to be calm even though inside, I was like, 'Oh, there's no way'."

Staving off two break points she locked away the opener 7-5 on her third set point with a searing backhand winner past the American.

"It was difficult to get into the match because we are very powerful players, so it was very hard to have a point with three shots. It was all about the serve, return, first two ground-strokes," Muguruza said.

"I think I played very well. I think I could serve better. But, yeah, for sure I'm pretty happy with my performance."

With players trading three straight breaks of serve to open the second set, it appeared the enormity of being a set and a break up on the world No.1 in a Grand Slam final might have been starting to play on the Spaniard’s mind.

If so, it was a momentary lapse. While Muguruza consolidated her break for 3-1, Williams’ screams were intensifying by the game. She held with an ace for 2-4 and a roar sounding a warning to the free-swinging Spaniard that the defending champion wasn’t done yet.

Where Muguruza was impressing in her aggression off the ground, double faults continued to make life difficult on serve. Despite sending down her ninth she closed to within a game of the title with an ace and a scream of “c’mon”.

Showing the steel which has carried her to 21 major titles before, Williams saved four match points when serving to keep the match alive.

Muguruza made sure it would be a brief reprieve. When Williams missed a crosscourt pass attempt long it brought up three more match points. She would seal it on her fifth opportunity with a brilliant lob to become the first Spanish woman to triumph at Roland-Garros since Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in 1998.

"It was very difficult to see you have four match points and it doesn't go your way," Muguruza said. "But it's a final. There's no room for being disappointed or for excuses.

"I still had another chance serving, and even after. I just tried to be calm even though inside, I was like, 'Oh, there's no way'."

Yet she found a way, and with Grand Slam title No.1 in the bag, Muguruza can set her sights on scaling further heights. She will rise to a career-high ranking of No.2 on Monday.

"Of course the (other) Grand Slams" she said, when asked what was next to tick off her list. "I almost won at Wimbledon. I remember this final. I hope I'll have another final, to win another Grand Slam final, and not to let it slip away.

"All the players want to be the No.1 player. I'm not thinking this way, you see. I decided to keep my focus and win matches and tournaments. But of course I would be very happy to be No.1."

Highlights: Muguruza v. S. Williams final
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