Two-time grand slam winner Garbine Muguruza is banking on her recent purple patch and a calmer mindset to help propel her to Australian Open glory.
Muguruza, the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon champion, suffered a three-set loss to Sofia Kenin in the 2020 Australian Open final.
The 28-year-old bowed out in the round of 16 last year to eventual winner Naomi Osaka in an epic three-set encounter.
Muguruza’s 2021 grand slam performances were below par by her lofty standards, with the world No.3 failing to make it past the round of 16.
But she finished the year on a high by taking out the season-ending WTA Finals in November.
World No.1 Ash Barty and defending champion Osaka will start the Australian Open as favourites, but Muguruza is widely tipped to be one of their main challengers.
Muguruza, who will compete at the upcoming Sydney Tennis Classic, said her triumph in the WTA Finals would hold her in good stead for the Australian summer.
“Yeah, it is exciting, because you’re finishing (the year) in a very good way, so you leave the court with a sweet taste,” she said.
“When you go back to competition you kind of feel. ‘Ah, the last time I was competing I held the trophy’.
“It is a nice feeling which normally doesn’t happen.
“Winning a big tournament gives you certainty, confidence, motivation. I’m looking forward to try to maintain that level and that style of game style.”
Barty holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Muguruza, which includes a Hopman Cup battle in 2019.
The only time Muguruza beat Barty was at the Canadian Masters in 2017.
“She’s a very talented player. It’s always difficult to face her,” Muguruza said of Barty.
“I will be looking forward to face her. That means that we are in a deep round of the tournament.”
Muguruza feels her growing maturity has helped keep her more level headed on the court during challenging moments.
“I feel more calm and stable. Before I was more emotional,” she said.
“I feel like a career is a continuation and a progression. I feel like I have the same big goals I had since I started to play WTAs, which is winning the big titles, getting the titles I still don’t have and all of that.”