Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How do you reflect on your run here last year, what it meant to you?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, it meant a lot. It was such a weird tournament. Coming last minute from Doha, without a team – well, without part of my team, playing so many matches in a row. I mean, I think it was a hell of an experience. But it was good, gave me a lot of confidence in myself.
Q. You mentioned your team. I saw you went to the desert together and stuff. Talk about what you did in the buildup, how important is it for you to switch off like that before getting back?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, being so many years here in Dubai, I’ve never had, like, the right day to go and do this experience. I said, You know what, this is the year. The tournament was so nice to actually organize a trip for us.
We went in the desert. We did a little bit of a junior experience, I would say (smiling). We were a little scared to hurt ourselves in the dunes. I don’t know, whatever.
It is so important to do fun things also because every week is hard, every tournament is difficult. We need that fun side of the work that we do. We like to do that as a team. I think it’s very nice to just bond everybody.
Q. Regarding Ash Barty, the way show won the Australian Open, what did you make of that, how dominant she was throughout?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I’m very happy for her. I think that she’s showing a very composed No. 1 and a very solid. Tennis-wise we all see she’s very talented. But she’s taking it in a very mature way, very stable. Sometimes it’s difficult for all this pressure, being at home.
Yeah, happy. I think she deserved it.
Q. For you personally, how long did it take you to shake off the loss in Australia? How did you deal with it? I could tell you were obviously disappointed. How did you reset after?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Yeah, I was disappointed. It took a couple of days back home. I’m like, Okay, how I’m going to shake things up? How I’m going to come back stronger?
We started training pretty fast, a lot kind of just to put the work, feel like, Okay, I’m going to prepare better. I mean, it’s always disappointing to lose in a Grand Slam that early. But I moved on. I’m here. This is a good tournament. It’s in the past already.
Q. I don’t know if you saw the draw. I know you don’t like looking at it.
GARBINE MUGURUZA: No, I didn’t see it.
Q. But you know who you play?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Yes. I’m playing Collins (smiling).
Q. What was your reaction when you saw your first round?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Yeah, well, a tough first round definitely. I think it’s a player, a very good player, but especially now having a lot of confidence after that final in Australia.
I mean, yeah, any match is hard. I think I’m going to prepare myself as always and go for it.
Q. On that question, you’re the defending champion here, you’ve been here multiple times, have experience on the courts. Who do you think is your biggest competitor this year? What goals have you set yourself?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: I mean, biggest competitor? Whew. They all play very well. This is a big event. Everyone comes here to play. It’s a tricky surface also. The ball flies, it’s a fast court.
I mean, I don’t have a favorite opponent to play. I think all of them are going to be tough. I do have experience playing so many years, so many matches. But others do as well, so…
Q. This is not related to tennis, but I do hear that you love to cook off and on, you love cooking desserts. Should you win this time, what is it that you are going to treat yourself with?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, since I don’t have a kitchen it’s very hard to cook. But I love cooking sweets. I don’t know, it’s like a (indiscernible) thing for athletes. It’s like a story.
I’m a big doughnut fan. This six-pack boxes, I love that. It’s a good treat.
Q. Regarding Rafa, what he did in Australia as well. What were your thoughts on that, with the final, the way he did it?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Oh, my God, that match. I like started in the morning and I left and came back and left and came back. Was the whole time on. It was a forever match. I don’t get to see that many matches whether it’s time, training or schedule. This one I got to see.
Yeah, really impressed. I think he really showed his essence in that match. I feel like we’ve all known him not only because he’s great, but because he’s resilient, strength, everything. I think that was a perfect example that he’s the best at coming back and fighting and staying there.
Man, it was amazing.
Q. You’ve known Conchita for a very long time. What is your favorite thing about her, working with her?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: My favorite thing? We all know her tennis career, but I would say outside tennis she’s a very easygoing and very empathic person. It’s not easy to find in the coaching area people that really understands you, with less words you can still communicate. I think that’s important for me.
Q. Obviously coming back here this year, it’s going to be a different environment to 2021. Going to have fans back, a bit of a target on your back. The weather is slightly more unpredictable. How do you prepare for all these things?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, I feel like that’s every week a challenge, right, adapting to every city, every environment. I’m so happy the crowd is back. It was so sad last year to step on the court and having empty stadium. But excited.
To be a target, it’s always good. I’d rather be a target than no one. Yeah, looking forward to start. I’ve been here already for a couple of days so it’s time to compete.
Q. I remember a few years ago in a press conference in Australia you were very open about how you felt a little bit hard done by the media. You were skeptical to be open again. I feel like you’ve turned a leaf. In Guadalajara, we had so many nice conversations about everything. What changed for you? Do you feel there’s something different now?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, it is true that I had a moment where I was a little bit more closed. I felt that, yeah, I mean, not as a complaint, but I did feel the media was tough on me. Of course, they had a lot of expectations. Once you maybe don’t maybe make everyone happy, they really go behind you. It’s part of the business, part of how it works.
I was maybe, I should be a little bit more quiet, maybe just go through it. I think I grew thick skin now and I’m happy to share good and bad. When it’s a bad tournament, bad experience, I say, Listen, it was really bad. When it’s good, also share it.
I’m more relaxed now about that.
Q. As an athlete, how do you manage anxiety issues, if at all, on court or off court? How does that take a toll on you as a player?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Well, it takes a toll big-time because we’re constantly week after week competing, watched by everyone, everybody’s expectations, our expectations. It’s a lot to handle.
I’ve definitely learned how to process them. You suffer less. You still suffer, of course. It’s still part of this. There’s nothing free here. But everybody handles it different. It’s no secret.
I feel like now it’s more popular to talk about it, but it always has been there. Some people are opening more and stuff. Some people are more quiet. I’ve been more quiet about it, for example. I’m happy to speak and share my experiences. It’s always been there. I don’t feel like it’s a secret. You just have to handle it.
Q. You’ve always had tennis around you growing up. Who was your idol growing up? Who inspired you?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Hmm. Well, I grew up with two brothers, tennis fanatics. I watched a lot of Sampras and Agassi matches. Yeah, I had to eat a lot of these matches. I didn’t see that many women’s.
I’ve seen Martina Hingis play because she was young, refreshing, very talented. I think that was my idol, I guess, if that’s how you say it.
Q. Paula entered the top five for the first time. You had the big match in Guadalajara. What does it mean for you to have another Spaniard doing so well? Does it push you, encourage you?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: Yes. I feel like it’s great. She’s so talented. I think she always had this tennis in her. Now I think she put the puzzle together, really jumped from one year to another. She always had that tennis. It took her time.
It’s great to have her and to see her around. She’s a good competition also. I look forward sharing more experiences with her, facing her.
Having someone in the tour also from the same country. I also miss Carla a lot now that she’s gone. Now Paula came to the game. It’s always good.
Spain is a country of tennis. Feel like now it’s pretty equal, right? I think men’s were dominating for a while, then women. Now I feel like both.