Before leaving for Abu Dhabi, where he arrived at dawn on Sunday with his disciple, Garbiñe Muguruza, Conchita Martínez (Monzón, 48 years old) attended AS to talk about the preseason and his professional relationship with the Spanish tennis player, who will compete in the capital of the United Arab Emirates from Wednesday.
How was the preseason with the uncertainty of the world circuit?
When we started, a timetable was known and we were prepared to leave for Australia on December 15th. Then that changed due to the measures taken by the authorities there and we had to change things. It became complicated because everything is very uncertain and uncertainty is not handled well by anyone.
Are you happy with the job?
Yes, we knew there was time to train and it is being done thoroughly. I'm happy.
What balance do you make of this year and a half of your new stage with Muguruza?
It has been a very good time for me. After the reunion, finishing again in a Grand Slam (the Australian Open 2020 after winning Wimbledon together in 2017) was something very nice. We came from working very well and she went from less to more in Shenzhen, in Hobart … In Melbourne she played very, very well. In Doha and Dubai it was quite good and then came the stoppage due to the coronavirus. Each of the team had to go home and we were separated from March to June, when we started training without having clear objectives. The balance is good and now we really want to be able to do, hopefully, great things.
How do you see Garbiñe?
Well, we all know his potential, how well he plays. Physically he is improving a lot and we have had time to have a very good preseason where he has recovered the positive feelings from last year. Now it's about putting it into practice and competing. It will not be easy because all tennis players work hard. But we have the peace of mind that we have done it and Garbiñe is a great player.
She says she participates more in the day to day. Do you encourage it?
I really like talking with the players. You work as a team. We professionals tell her what she needs and she sees if it works for her. If not, something is changed. Tennis players understand what is good for them and she knows how it feels better. We are incorporating and improving things that we believe will be good for him to compete.
One of the aspects in which Muguruza is better is the attitude …
Yes, you have to work a lot on the mentality. If you have a good predisposition when things are not going well and try to do everything possible to turn it around, it is known that matches, no matter how uphill they are, can be traced. That fighting spirit has been brought out by her in most of the encounters. It is the line to follow because it is a tennis player who can be at the top.
What improvements do you think they have made in terms of tennis?
Garbiñe has a very strong line of play. It is essential that it is aggressive and that it commands the track. Apart from holding on, he has to finish the points. We practice uploading to the network a lot. The whole team works in the same direction so that she is well and ready to compete in all aspects.
In Abu Dhabi with the test passed
Conchita Martínez and Garbiñe Muguruza passed the PCR tests favorably after their arrival in Abu Dhabi. There they entered the luxurious bubble of the ultra-modern Fairmont Bab Al Bahr hotel, where all the players who will compete at the Zayed Sports City International Tennis Center are housed. In the 64 draw are, among others, Kenin (4th in the world), Svitolina (5th), Karolina Pliskova (6th), Sabalenka (10th) and Coco Gauff (48th). “It is preparatory, but Garbiñe will try to go as far as possible,” says the Aragonese.
Is the atmosphere as good as it looks from the outside?
There is very good vibes, all together for their own good and so that they go out on the track free of everything and show what they have. We help each other and that is perceived by the player, that good energy.
What goals do you set?
Try to win every tournament. She always focused on the Grand Slams, but I like the regularity and that all the events are played conscientiously and with all the intensity possible.
The calendar, if it is held in full, is exciting, with four Grand Slams, the new Billie Jean King Cup (former Federation Cup), the Games, the WTA Finals …
Yes, but the fundamental thing is that preparatory tournaments can be played before the big ones, like now in Abu Dhabi. It is the way to arrive with filming, which is the scariest thing, to start without preparation. There are many beautiful things ahead, but everything is very uncertain, because the virus has given us a tumble.
Do you think that the equality of the women's circuit is more a difficulty than an opportunity?
There are very good players and everyone really wants to do well and is very hungry. That is good for tennis and at the same time a bit confusing for the fan who sees it a bit from the outside. The people are very well prepared and the level is very high. Suddenly a 19-year-old girl wins a Grand Slam (Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros). Respect for those at the top has been lost, the girls go out to play very free and without fear, and that is dangerous. On a very good day, they can make it very difficult for you.
I don't know if they ask you a lot about this, because the focus is usually on Muguruza: How are you as a coach?
I feel good, excited about what I do. When I do something that I like and I'm good with the team, everything flows. I am in a good moment of my career and with an important opportunity.
How did you handle the confinement?
I had been with Karolina Pliskova for a year and I immediately started with Garbiñe. It was a downturn to stop, because at first it seemed like three weeks and it took a long time. It became complicated and it was not easy to keep your player motivated in difficult moments. My job was to try.
Finally, what do you think of the transformation of the WTA, do you see it as a nod to a future union of men's and women's tennis?
I think it's a good idea. The union is always good, if it is with equal opportunities for both sexes. I see it with good eyes if it is going to be like that.