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  • After winning her second major title at Wimbledon, Garbine Muguruza heads to the U.S. Open with a fresh outlook and new-found confidence. But in New York, she'll have to drown out the noise—and her unlucky record of results.
By Jamie Lisanti
August 22, 2017

“Never be a prisoner of your past. Become the architect of your future. You will never be the same.” 

You’re more likely to find this quote on inspirational page-a-day desk calendars or pinned to positivity Pinterest boards, but the line first appeared about halfway through Robin Sharma’s 1999 book, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny.

At the time it was published, Garbine Muguruza was only six years old, moving with her family from Venezuela to Spain and soon after, starting training sessions at the Bruguera Tennis Academy near Barcelona.

Now 23, and with two Grand Slam titles to her name, Muguruza has added El Monje Que Vendio Su Ferrari to her 2017 summer reading list—she just has to make sure she has headphones with her.

“My mind is never super focused to read,” Muguruza says of traditional paperbacks. “Every time I start reading I just start thinking and I forget everything. I’m trying audiobooks—that’s working better.”

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While Muguruza has found a solution to reading more books, she’s also found something else this summer: a new gear. Punctuated by her second major title at Wimbledon in July and, most recently, her fifth career WTA title at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati last week, the World No. 3 has shown a growing level of confidence on the court. And with that attitude has come more consistent results.

After beating Serena Williams to win her first major title at the French Open in 2016, Muguruza did not return to a final—not only at a Grand Slam tournament but also at a WTA tour-level event—for more than a year. While many were quick to tag the Spaniard as the sport’s next big star, her inability to string together wins and compete for hardware in finals following her breakout win also raised some questions about her game: Are the expectations too much for her to manage? Can she sustain a high level of play throughout the year? Will she win another major title?

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This summer, Muguruza has answered the critics with aggressive play and steady results. At Wimbledon she not only made it back to a final but then stared down Venus Williams. What’s she’s done since has been comparably impressive, reaching the quarterfinals or better in her last three tournaments. In the Cincinnati final, she dominated Simona Halep in straight sets in 56 minutes, denying the Romanian the No. 1 ranking and marking the first time she’s won multiple titles in a season. Muguruza has always had an affinity for big matches in the spotlight, but now it seems as if she is warming up to the pressure that comes along with it.

“It’s a good position to be in. I don’t see it as something negative,” Muguruza says. “I just want to be ready and prepared to face all of these difficult matches. I know sometimes it seems difficult to carry, but I think it’s a privilege to be in that position.”

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Against No. 4-seed Madison Keys in the fourth round in Cincinnati last week, Muguruza could have easily capitulated—after a lengthy rain delay, Keys held three match points in the third set. But instead she steadied and, drawing from her preparation for the match after a straight-sets loss to the American in the Stanford semifinals two weeks earlier, found the belief to win and advance. It’s in these types of stressful moments that Muguruza needs to raise her level in order to find a place among the best in the game.

“To know what you are doing is working—when things are going well and it’s working and it’s all paying off, it’s best feeling to have.” Muguruza says.

After her title in Cincinnati, Muguruza says she’ll take some time to rest so she can “start fresh” as the U.S. Open begins on Aug. 28. As she goes for back-to-back majors, she’ll enter as the third seed, but she’ll also have a dismal record to overcome: she has not made it past the second round in four tries in New York. She says the U.S. Open is a tricky tournament for her, not only because of her results but also because of the hectic vibe of New York and the event itself.

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“It’s a noisy city,” Muguruza says. “Every year I go to the U.S. Open and say, ‘OK this year I am going to do better’ but it never comes. I want to go there and change that. Hopefully this year I can do it.”

Luckily, she’ll have her headphones, and an audiobook, to drown out the noise and continue building her future.

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