MADRID (Reuters) – Garbine Muguruza has the potential to rise to the top of the world rankings, fellow Spaniards and former grand slam singles champions Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Conchita Martinez said after the 22-year-old won the China Open on Sunday.
Muguruza claimed the biggest title of her fledgling career by beating Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 7-5 6-4 and will climb to fourth in the rankings, a point behind third-placed Maria Sharapova, when they are updated on Monday.
Caracas-born Muguruza, whose has a Venezuelan mother and a Spanish father, broke into the top 10 after reaching the Wimbledon final in July, where she lost to number one Serena Williams.
She was the first Spanish woman to play the championship match at the All England Club since Sanchez Vicario in 1996 and the first to reach a grand slam singles final since Martinez at Roland Garros in 2000.
“She is a girl who is capable of everything and she has the potential to get to the very top,” former number one Sanchez Vicario, who won four grand slam singles titles, told sports daily Marca.
Muguruza, whose birthday was on Thursday, split with her long-term coach just before last month’s U.S. Open and her decision to work with Sam Sumyk on a trial basis appears to be paying off.
Her run to the final in Wuhan last week, where she lost to Venus Williams, and her success in Beijing meant she reached finals in back-to-back weeks for the first time in her career.
Frenchman Sumyk has also coached players including Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, Canadian Eugenie Bouchard and Russia’s Vera Zvonareva.
“We all thought she had a lot of potential and her development is going very well,” Martinez, the 1994 Wimbledon champion who is now the captain of Spain’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams, told Marca.
“The way the women’s circuit is at the moment, I believe Garbine is capable of everything,” she added.
“She has an aggressive game and when she is on song it’s unstoppable. I know she is working hard on the things she needs to improve so she can go as far as possible.”
(Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Ed Osmond)