If nothing else, Brisbane is most definitely not Garbiñe Muguruza’s happy place.
And it’s even less so after the world No. 2 had to retire Tuesday.
Muguruza went into a full-body cramp while up a break in the third set against Krunic in her first official match of the season. It’s awful to watch a player suffering through that, and it takes some time for the body to recover.
Last year, Muguruza retired in the first set of her semifinal against Alizé Cornet, because of the right thigh that was so often wrapped tightly in 2017.
In 2016, she retired after the first game of the second set of her first match, against Varvara Lepchenko, with a left foot injury.
In 2015, she never even made it, pulling out before the tournament began with an ankle injury.
Muguruza isn’t a player who suffers cramps very often. Conditions in Brisbane Tuesday were extremely tough, even if there’s a roof atop Pat Rafter Arena to shield the players from the extreme sun.
There appeared to be no heat-rule break after the second set. At the very least, if there was, neither player took advantage of it.
“I felt in trouble in the second set when I was 2-0 up. “I start to feel my calves were cramping. I continued to think that with the match they might go away, but then they were increasing, increasing. And then I had a lot of part of my body cramping,” Muguruza told the media in Brisbane. “I cannot believe it. I don’t know. It’s a shame because I always come here excited the first tournament, and this one was bad luck, I guess.”
Short time to acclimate
Channel 7 commentator Sam Smith was straightforward in her assessment of Muguruza’s preparation. Smith said the conditions are so extreme, that players need at least a week to acclimate upon their arrival Down Under.
Leaving from Los Angeles, Muguruza cut it a little close. And the situation was exacerbated by an issue with her Qantas flight on Tuesday night. The plane had to return to L.A. after two hours in the air because of a fuel issue. So Muguruza was delayed another 24 hours; she arrived only early Friday morning.
By early in the second set, Muguruza was clearly compromised. Up a set and 5-2 in the second set, her struggles allowed the always-game Krunic to catch up and sneak out the set.
By the end of that set, things were happening.
The ballkids handed Muguruza a bottle of water that was … frozen solid. So that was a high point.
And then she changed her top, right on court, after dropping the second set. That’s something you don’t see that often. Most players use the one change-of-attire break they’re allowed to have a good think back in the locker room.
Blisters, cramps – the whole nine yards
After that, Muguruza called out the trainer to have the one spot on her foot that didn’t already have tape on it, because of an apparent blister.
Then, after going up 2-0 and before she served at 2-1, she called out coach Sam Sumyk for a coaching consult.
The interchanges between the two in the past often have been testy, borderline disrespectful. Certainly, they are rarely pleasant to watch, which was the whole point of the on-court coaching addition to the “entertainment experience.”
With the new season, not much has changed between the two.
Sumyk: “We can’t keep fighting, if we keep complaining every point.”
Muguruza: “I’m cramping in the two quads – the two calves. I cannot complain?”
Sumyk: “No, not right now. Later, after the match. You complain to me if you want.”
After that edifying exchange, Muguruza went out and won the first point. Then she missed her first serve, and paused a couple of times to shake out her legs before hitting the second serve.
Krunic’s ball hit the line, but Muguruza just stopped playing as her right hand began to cramp.
The chair umpire, quickly realizing what was happening, called for the trainer at that point.
Muguruza won the next point with a forehand and gestured to her box.
At 30-15, she made her first serve – and then the all-over cramps hit. You could see the nasty-looking bulge in her right calf.
And it was over.
No. 1 no longer in play for Muguruza
The loss means Muguruza cannot aspire to being the No. 1-ranked player and the No. 1 seed at the Australian Open.
That honor could belong to current No. 1 Simona Halep (who will cement it if she defeats Ying-Ying Duan in Shenzhen Wednesday).
Or, Caroline Wozniacki can shock everyone by winning the tournament in Auckland.