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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday January 25, 2020

 
Garbine Muguruza

As we turn the page on a torrid week one, Aussie Musings run through five significant Day 6 observations.
 

Five thoughts on the run of play of Day 6 at the 2020 Aussie Open.

More Aussie Musings: Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 |

Muguruza Displaying Vintage Form Once Again

Precision. Consistency. Commitment. This is what has been lacking from Garbiñe Muguruza’s game over the last year or so and this is what appears to be back here at the Australian Open. Muguruza has poured her heart and soul into this tournament, battling through an illness that was clearly affecting her greatly in the first two rounds to get to a third-round clash with Elina Svitolina in the third round.

And in that third round match is where we saw the vintage Muguruza that can be so devastating. It’s funny that Muguruza gets labeled as a power player, because at her best she is so much more than that. When Muguruza is firing on all cylinders it isn’t the power that jumps out at you—it’s the consistency. Muguruza can be relentless from the baseline, absorbing pace and delivering an array of well-placed groundstrokes that are designed to create openings and also wear an opponent down.

When she's really in the groove, like she was against Svitolina on Saturday, it can be awe inspiring.

It was a pleasure to watch Muguruza turn back the clock a bit on Saturday, but to her it's not like she's summoning some old ghost--she believes she's that good and always has been. For Muguruza, in other words, it's just about catching the wave and riding it. Now with a fresh outlook and a revived partnership with Conchita Martinez, the waves might become that much easier to ride.

One of the most impressive parts of the Spaniard's package is her movement. Muguruza is deceptively quick (and also blessed with long levers and therefore great reach) and a very good reader of the game, which enables her to defend when she needs to but, perhaps more important, it enables her to counter her opponents attacks and steal control of rallies with pace and depth.


We rehash these attributes of Muguruza in today's Aussie Musings because last night it truly felt like a rediscovery of all the things that make the Spaniard world class on a tennis court. The precision of her strokes, combined with the power she can produce (and control), tossed in with an incredibly high ability to concentrate and minimize errors (there were nine last night to go with 31 winners) are what make Muguruza, a complete package.

Nadal Hits his Stride but Kyrgios Lingers

Speaking of players hitting their stride in Melbourne, how about the performance of Rafael Nadal on Day 6? 42 winners and 7 unforced errors are the cold, hard facts, and once again Nadal has taken a fellow Spaniard to the woodshed. Nadal’s streak against compatriots hits 18 and now, in retrospect we know why Nicolas Almagro celebrated so euphorically when he took out Nadal in Barcelona in 2015. Who can blame him?

Nadal will now have to prepare for an entirely different type of matchup as he readies for a round of 16 clash with Nick Kyrgios at Melbourne. Unfortunately, a match against Pablo Carreno Busta isn’t exactly the perfect preparation for what Kyrgios will inevitably toss Nadal’s way, but the confidence gained from three strong performance in Melbourne, not to mention his victory over Kyrgios in their last meeting at Wimbledon, should help Nadal enter this contest in a very positive state of mind.

Andrey the Giant Rublev Simply Will Not Lose

Andrey Rublev is proving to be a bit of a Rafael Nadal disciple these days; the Russian’s mental approach the sport is clearly benefitting him, and as his win streak climbed to 15 with his hard-fought comeback win over David Goffin on Day 6, we're left to ask the question: Will this guy ever lose again? Afterwards Rublev, a self-professed Nadal acolyte, ran the media through his approach to battling through his difficult encounter with the Belgian.

We’ll let Andrey take it from here (kids and aspiring tennis players, listen up):

“Sometimes it's not about confidence. When you feel the ball well, okay, it's amazing. But you cannot control this. Maybe one day you play really good, then second day you're not playing that good. Then is more about become about mental.


“For example, especially second round, I was serving unbelievable. This match I was not serving the same. You cannot control this. I would like to serve always amazing. You cannot control this.

“Then it's more about mental, how you accept this, how you still be positive instead of be negative. In the end, tennis is more mental. It's really mental. Mental is the main important thing in tennis.”

What’s not to like about the game and the mindset of Andrey Rublev right now? He’ll face Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.

Thiem or Medvedev -- ready to crash big 3 party?

The one ATP storyline that will never go away—until it goes away: Will anybody other than the Big 3 ever win another Slam? Of course they will, but will they do it before Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have all retired? That’s a trickier question. And even trickier—could it happen next week? Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev are still standing strong in the draw,with a shot to end the Big 3's run of consecutive majors won at 12. Good on them, but the hard work beckons...

Thiem overcame a difficult match in the second round with Alex Bolt, but performed a lot better on Day 6 against Taylor Fritz. Before you think it’s crazy that Thiem has a shot to win this tournament, realize that the slow-playing surface, and the fluffiness of the balls helping the surface seem even slower than it is, plays a role.

Daniil Medvedev has also looked strong throughout week one—he’s given no indication that he isn’t ready to take the next step. It feels like a rematch in with Rafael Nadal in the semis is on the horizon.

Stefanos Tsitsipas had his Aussie Open derailed by hard-serving Milos Raonic, but Alexander Zverev has surged to life to take his place in the conversation here in Melbourne.

Which player has the best chance of making the run all the way to the final? Something tells us that it is Medvedev, but something also tells us that we’ll be having this same conversation in May when Roland Garros rolls around—it just doesn’t feel like the time, not with the way Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have played through week one.

Halep a Frontrunner for the Trophy?

Hard to pick a WTA frontrunner after a third-round of disarray that saw six Top 10 seeds drop out of the mix. Serena Williams is out. Defending champion Naomi Osaka is out. Karolina Pliskova—gone.

How about the reigning Wimbledon champ?

One top five seed who has impressed in a big way is Simona Halep. She has come through three rounds without dropping a set, is playing with confidence and has Darren Cahill by her side as a full-time coach again. There’s also the fact that she has been the most consistent Top 5 player over the last few years, and the fact that the slow, gritty surface at Melbourne Park likely suits her game style pretty well also.

She seems like the most logical choice to win it all at the moment.


 

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