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Gabrine Muguruza in Brisbane

Monday was a happy day for French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, who rallied past Sam Stosur 7-5, 6-7 (2), 7-5 at the Brisbane International in Australia. Not only because she won, but also since it was the first time in three attempts that she managed to complete a match at this event.

“It was a battle,” Muguruza said after the match that lasted nearly three hours. “Stosur played very well today. She served like a beast. It took three hours to see what happens in the end.” Luckily for her, there was no customary injury this time. In two previous trips to the season-opening tournament, creaking body parts halted the Spaniard’s game.

But Stosur does evoke positive memories for Muguruza. It was in the semifinals of the French Open in 2016 that the two last met, before Muguruza toppled the then No. 1-ranked Serena Williams in the final to claim her first major title.

On the other end of the spectrum stood a deflated Stosur, who at the age of 32, has failed to win a competitive match since the first round of the US Open in September. Even at her home tournament in Queensland, the Australian was heavily outclassed.

Playing up the importance of 2017 ahead of the season opener, Muguruza had said, “There were some very good moments in 2016, very bad too. I think every year is like this. Every year that goes through, I feel calmer. The feelings are not new anymore. When you’re not playing well, when you’re playing really good, you just know how to handle yourself a little bit more. I just want to go out there and see what happens. I have honestly no expectations because anything can happen. That’s my mindset. Very simple.”

It may not have been very simple on this occasion, but Muguruza showed the sort of maturity that will stand her in good stead as the season unfolds.

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