Hong Kong Tennis Open: birthday girl Garbine Muguruza will keep believing for return to ‘beautiful years’
The two-time major champion will be one of the favourites at Victoria Park as she begins plotting her way back to the top of tennis
Turning 25 on Monday, Garbine Muguruza was presented with a birthday cake at Victoria Park Tennis Stadium. When she blew out the candles, you can imagine her only wish was to get back to the top of the game after a wretched 2018, starting with the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open.
This time last year Muguruza, then ranked second in the world, was preparing for the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore after winning her second grand slam title at Wimbledon.
But the Spaniard has seen her ranking slip to 13 after an inconsistent season, and she hopes Hong Kong can provide a spark going into 2019.
“I think it’s just a matter of keep believing, I will play good, keep working hard,” Muguruza said. “Not all the years are as beautiful as the year from before. It’s very hard to compare because it was an incredible year [in 2017]. I’m just trying to keep going in the right direction.
“I think everything I’m doing right now is going to help me for next year. My mindset is in Hong Kong, but also the end of this year, so starting for next year.
“There’s no expectation, just trying to finish well and start better.”
The former French Open champion had to contend with an arm injury for most of the summer after a second-round exit at Wimbledon.
A semi-final defeat by eventual champion Simona Halep at Roland Garros was her best run at a major in 2018, with the Monterrey Open in Mexico her only title.
“I had a few injuries but every year you have something,” Muguruza said. “I just think I played a lot of matches that didn’t go my way.
“I struggled in a few tournaments, I couldn’t find the right quality of games to be able to beat these opponents and I’m still searching for it.”
A late addition to the draw at Victoria Park, Muguruza arrives on the back of a second-round defeat at the China Open in Beijing, having made the last 16 in Wuhan and Tokyo.
“I knew I wanted to compete this week, I wanted to try to do it here in Hong Kong,” she said. “I was excited to come. I’m happy I’ve been given the chance to come.
“It had nothing to do with Beijing, I said I’m gonna play no matter if I win or go far in the tournament. I wanted to play this week.”
Muguruza also took time out to visit Shaukiwan Tsung Tsin School in Shau Kei Wan after arriving from Beijing on Friday.
“They [the schoolchildren] were very, very excited they could play some tennis, they were trying to speak English with me so it was very cute,” she said.
“I always like to see kids and go to a school. When I was little I didn’t study in a school, I was having classes by myself a little bit, so I enjoy going to a school and seeing the kids.”