Seven-time Grand Slam-winner Venus Williams believes Garbine Muguruza can “keep going higher” after she soared to fourth in the world rankings after victory at the China Open.
Williams, 35, beat the 22-year-old Spaniard when she retired from this month’s Wuhan Open title match, but she said the Wimbledon finalist had the talent to keep rising.
“She really has so much talent – she can keep going higher,” Williams said ahead of her campaign at this week’s Hong Kong Open.
The physically imposing Muguruza downed Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-4 in Beijing on Sunday to win the biggest title of her career. Afterwards, she said she had designs on becoming world No1.
After the disappointment of losing at Wimbledon, Muguruza linked up with coach French Sam Sumyk on a trial basis. With the Spaniard 10-2 overall in her matches in Asia, she believes the partnership with Viktoria Azarenka’s former coach is proving an immediate success and a more permanent arrangement is now likely.
She said: “Now everything can be only worse! “I’m really happy with how we’re working together. We’ll sit together after these Asia tournaments and we’ll talk about what we’re going to do.
“For sure I’m happy the way we’re working. I think he’s a very professional guy. He knows what it takes to be there. This is very important for me, to have somebody who knows what I have to do and what I don’t have to do. Let’s see. It’s not official, but let’s see what happens.”
— WTA (@WTA) October 9, 2015
Muguruza, who has also qualified for the year-ending WTA Finals in Singapore later this month, has dropped out of the Hong Kong Open with an ankle injury – clearing a big obstacle for Williams.
She is currently 11th in the wide-open Road to Singapore rankings, but she still has a chance of reaching the eight-player season finale.
“The field is really deep, there’s a lot of top players but I feel like I have a good opportunity,” Williams said ahead of her first-round match against Ukrainian lucky loser
Novak Djokovic arrived in Shanghai on Monday just hours after lifting his eighth trophy of the year in Beijing – and few look capable of stopping him grab title number nine this week.
A 6-2, 6-2 victory over long-time rival Rafael Nadal underlined the dominance of the world No1, who stretched his China Open winning streak to 29 matches without dropping a set.
Defending Shanghai Masters champion Roger Federer and Andy Murray await in China’s southeastern metropolis, in what is a challenge of a different order for Djokovic with an elite men’s field.
But the 10-time Grand Slam-winner is no stranger to success at the Qi Zhong Stadium, after claiming two Masters titles and the 2008 Tennis Masters Cup at the large venue on the city’s outskirts.
After a breathtaking China Open, when he lost only 18 games and extended his record to 9-0 in Chinese finals, Djokovic had no doubts about the need to maintain his level.
“Well, I’m hoping definitely. I know the conditions are slightly different. I’m going to get a couple days of rest and practice and get ready,” he said. “I mean, it’s not the first time I’m playing back-to-back weeks. Next week’s tournament is going to be even stronger because obviously all the best players in the world are there.
“This positive week definitely encourages me and gives me a lot of confidence for Shanghai.”
Second seed Federer preferred not to dwell on a potential final against Djokovic, as he sizes up his half of the draw which includes Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Kei Nishikori and Stanislas Wawrinka.
“Playing in semis or finals doesn’t matter. Looks like you have to beat him at some stage the way he’s playing right now. If you play him in the semis or the finals, it doesn’t really matter,” said the Swiss.
“I don’t think that far ahead, to be quite honest.”
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) October 13, 2015
Britain’s Murray is returning from a nearly four-week break as he heads into a busy season’s end which will culminate in next month’s Davis Cup final against Belgium.
“I feel fresh. The positives of playing a lot of tennis, playing a lot of tournaments is your body gets used to playing matches. You feel confident because you played a lot,” said the Scot.
In yesterday’s first-round matches, last year’s US Open champion Marin Cilic escaped a major shock when he came from a set down and saved a match point before beating China’s Wu Di 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also took three sets to subdue Tommy Robredo 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-2, while Australia’s Nick Krygios reached the second round with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer.
John Isner needed just 45 minutes to crush Adrian Mannarino in the opening round of the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
The big-serving American, seeded 13, fired down 20 aces – 10 in each set – on his way to a 6-1 6-2 victory over the Frenchman.
Feliciano Lopez, the 15th-seeded Spaniard, had to come through a sterner test against Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov.
He was on court for more than an hour longer before clinching a 6-4 7-6 (7/3) success.
Sixteenth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga recovered from a set down to defeat Spaniard Tommy Robredo 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-2 as the Frenchman looks to make up for his absence in last year’s tournament.
Australian Nick Kyrgios enjoyed smooth progress thanks to a 6-3 6-2 win over Austria’s Andreas Haider-Maurer, while Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic saw off France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-4 7-6 (8/6).
Marin Cilic avoided a major upset against home wildcard Di Wu in the final match of the day.
The 14th-seeded Croatian needed 15 aces to finally see off a valiant effort from the world number 227, prevailing in a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) victory which lasted over two hours.
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) October 12, 2015
Other first-round winners included Slovakia’s Martin Klizan, who will play top seed Novak Djokovic in the next round, American Steve Johnson, for whom third seed Andy Murray is next up, Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos, who will face 2013 semi-finalist Tsonga.
There were also wins for Leonardo Mayer of Argentina, Austria’s Dominic Thiem and Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who earned a meeting with Roger Federer.