By Simon Cambers
NEW YORK (Reuters) – For most women at the U.S. Open, overcoming Serena Williams is the biggest challenge.
But for Garbine Muguruza, coping with the unique demands of New York City outstrips any worries over the 22-times grand slam champion.
The Spaniard beat Williams to win the French Open for her first grand slam title this season and could take over the world number one spot from the American this fortnight.
The 22-year-old Muguruza, born in Venezuela, raised in Spain and now a resident of Geneva, is a fan of the country life and knows New York presents a very real challenge.
“I feel this tournament is the most tricky tournament because there is obviously a lot of things,” Muguruza told reporters at Flushing Meadows.
“There is always traffic. There is always noise, people. I don’t know. Everything takes a lot of energy. “For whatever reason, it is more complicated, just because it’s more a big city, huge city, huge everything. I’m not that city girl.” Muguruza has never gone beyond the second round in three visits to New York but as a grand slam champion, she knows she has the ability to go far.
Reaching the final could see her overtake Williams but Muguruza said the prospect of becoming number one did not add pressure. “For sure it will be an incredible achievement,” she said. “I don’t even know what I have to do, I’m not really thinking about that.
“I’m just thinking what I have to do to winning my rounds and my matches and hopefully get to the last match and win it. But I think it will be incredible.”
Muguruza, who plays Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens in the first round of the year’s last grand slam starting on Monday, said the buzz about the top ranking has picked up as Williams’ hold on the number one spot has weakened.
“I feel the discussion is much louder because there is more movement (in the rankings),” the Spaniard said.
“There are a couple of players that can reach number one. So that creates a little bit of juicy comments.
“I feel it a little bit, but I guess it’s normal.”
Muguruza experienced a quick let-down when she lost in the second round at Wimbledon after her Paris triumph but said she has been working hard on all areas of her game.
“I think I’m playing well,” she said. “I think I’m improving a lot of my fitness, getting stronger, getting more experience.”
(Reporting by Simon Cambers; Editing by Larry Fine)