Serena overwhelmed by Muguruza in round two of French Open
PARIS -- Well, apart from that, how did you enjoy the play, Mme. Williams? It is Kids' Day here at Roland Garros. And, apart from scads of adolescent fans prowling the grounds, the day has been dominated by a pair of WTA newbies: 19-year-old Slovakian Anna Schmiedlova and 20-year-old Spaniard Garbine Muguruza beat Venus and Serena Williams, respectively.
Three quick thoughts:
• Two years ago, Serena Williams lost in the first round of the French Open to Virginie Razzano; last year, she was barely challenged winning the title. Today was 2012 all over again. The first seed and overwhelming favorite scarcely got in the match against Muguruza, just a mystifying performance.
"I'm going to go home and work five times as hard to make sure I never lose again," Serena said. "I know for a fact I can play so much better than what I did today."
A lanky Spaniard who blisters the ball, Muguruza stood right in the points with Serena, matching her physically and hardly giving her an opportunity, smothering the defending champ 6-2, 6-2. Muguruza won 60 percent of the points, hit the ball from the backcourt five miles faster on average and simply never released a boot from Serena's neck.
"Honestly, I think Garbine played really well and she played really smart. I didn't adapt," Serena said. "I have actually never seen her play like this."
Apart from her many assets, Serena also has (had?) an aura that was good for a few games a set. Today, it was never apparent. Whether it was Serena's unremarkable 2014, her sister's loss or simply the innocence of youth, Muguruza betrayed no awe whatsoever. She won big point after big point. She teed off on Serena's second serve, winning more than half of her RETURN points. Serena hit only eight winners (to 29 errors) and won zero points at net. In the second set, Muguruza barely had time to get nervous, jumping to a 3-0 lead and never looking back. This wasn't just an upset -- it was an obliteration.
"There was a moment in the last games of the match [when I thought] 'Oh, my God, I'm winning the set,' Muguruza said. "I was nervous, but I said, 'Okay, be calm. She's also nervous. I have the opportunity, so I have to continue like this to win.'"
• Earlier this afternoon on Chatrier, Venus took the court against Anna Schmiedlova, who was one month old when Venus won her first WTA match. Venus, who will be 34 years old in just a few weeks, won the first set handily, playing about as well as she can play. Then, as if signing a nonaggression pact, she dropped eight of nine games and, eventually, the match.
"I think [Schmiedlova] played really well, even in the first set; I think she was competitive," Venus said. "In the second and third [set], I think I made too many errors. And I think she just played so well and just kept getting so many balls in the court."
Routine balls missed their mark as badly as 50 Cent throwing to home. Venus grew tired as, sadly, she tends to do at this point in her career. Emboldened, Schmiedlova began taking risks and finding the radar on both her forehand and backhand. After a late rally by Venus, staving off a pair of match points, Schmiedlova served out the match at 5-4, and won 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
"I think she's very good already, and she's going to be even better as she continues to play," Venus said. "I see wonderful things for her."
• These are two titanic upsets to be sure, Serena in particular. With Li Na's loss yesterday, the women's draw is now deprived of its top two seeds and it's barely lunchtime on the fourth day. Fans were also anticipating a potential third-round matchup between Serena and Venus, and now, there will be no Williams in the third round.
Still, don't shortchange Schmiedlova and Muguruza. These are two of the brighter prospects in the WTA, uninhibited ballstrikers with the requisite size. Muguruza has already won a title this year and could be close to the top 20 by Wimbledon. Schmiedlova might be the best teenager in the world. Still, the social order is disintegrating. And Maria Sharapova -- now the favorite -- is doing cartwheels.