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A good omen? Muguruza hoping WTA Finals win sparks AO success

  • Matt Trollope

Since the turn of the century, the WTA Finals have proven their predictive qualities when it comes to Australian Open champions.

The prestigious season-ending event, featuring the world's top eight women, is staged each year in November; winners typically enter the off-season buoyant and emerge in the new year rippling with momentum and confidence as they target an even bigger prize at Melbourne Park.

The proof of that? Almost one-third of Australian Opens dating back to 2006 have been won by the reigning WTA Finals champion.

MORE: AO 2022 women's singles draw

In 2021, Garbine Muguruza captured the WTA Finals title in Guadalajara to end the year ranked No.3.

"It is exciting, because you're finishing a very good way, so you leave the court with a sweet taste," Muguruza said earlier this week in Sydney. 

"When you go back to competition, you kind of feel that, 'Ah, the last time I was competing I hold the trophy'. It is a nice feeling which normally doesn't happen. 

"Winning a big tournament gives you certainty, confidence, motivation. (I'm) very looking forward to maintain or try to maintain that level and that style of playing, game style, whatever it is."

Garbine Muguruza wins WTA Finals
That winning feeling: Muguruza made her mark in Mexico last year

Could Muguruza be the latest player to triumph at Melbourne Park shortly after her WTA Finals victory?

She would join an impressive honour roll of players who have recently done the same.

Caroline Wozniacki (2017-18)

At the time, Caroline Wozniacki's victory at the 2017 WTA Finals in Singapore marked a career breakthrough. Of the 27 titles she had won up to that point, this was the biggest of them all. It came thanks to wins over Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova and Venus Williams, and capped an impressive year for the Dane, who rose from 20th to third in the rankings after appearing in eight finals.

Wozniacki reclaimed her No.1 ranking with her maiden major win in 2018

When she arrived in Melbourne in January 2018, she said: "I feel good. I think I've had a great last year. Something I'm very proud of. Just happy to be here, playing pretty well. Hopefully I can build on that." 

Just two weeks later, she won her first Grand Slam singles title, and with that, returned to world No.1.

Serena Williams (2014-15)

The last time Serena Williams contested the WTA Finals was the year the tournament first moved to Singapore. After a surprisingly one-sided loss to Halep in the group stages, she avenged that defeat with a resounding 6-3 6-0 win when they met again in the final. Williams had progressively gathered momentum in 2014; from August onwards she won Stanford, Cincinnati and the US Open before concluding her season in style in Singapore.

Williams started 2015 in Australia as she ended 2014 in Singapore

"It's great. I didn't expect to end the year on this note. I was just happy to even be competing here," said Williams, who suffered injuries during that year's Asian swing. 

"It makes everything much more sweeter and satisfying. I'm so looking forward next year. I can't wait to get started again. It'll be fun." 

And fun it was, with Williams dropping just two sets as she stormed through the draw to win Australian Open 2015, setting up a memorable quest for the calendar-year Grand Slam that also took in the Roland Garros and Wimbledon titles before she ultimately fell in the US Open semis.

Kim Clijsters (2010-11)

Clijsters played sparingly in 2010, but when she did, she was devastating. The Belgian notched four tournament titles that season – Brisbane, Miami, Cincinnati and the US Open – to qualify as the fourth-ranked player for the WTA Finals, which that year were held in Doha.

Clijsters won her fourth and final major in Melbourne in 2011

There she captured her fifth title of the year, courtesy of wins against Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka, Sam Stosur and Wozniacki in the final. And she carried that momentum into 2011, reaching the final in Sydney before going on to win the Australian Open – her first triumph at Melbourne Park and the fourth and most recent major title of her career.

Serena Williams (2009-10)

At the 2009 WTA Championships in Doha, Williams completed the impressive feat of going undefeated in the round-robin stages before going on to win the title, a campaign marked by five straight wins against top-eight opposition.

That tournament title saw her end the season as the world No.1 and she continued playing that way at Australian Open 2010, winning the trophy thanks to wins against five future or current Grand Slam champions – Petra Kvitova, Stosur, Azarenka, Li Na and Justine Henin.

Amelie Mauresmo (2005-06)

Like Wozniacki in 2017, Mauresmo enjoyed a WTA Championships victory in Los Angeles in 2005 that was, at the time, the biggest title of her career. Her victories over three of the world's top five – Clijsters, Maria Sharapova and Mary Pierce – gave her the belief that perhaps even bigger things, such as a Grand Slam singles title, were within reach. 

"I really think that's a huge step for me. I don't know where it's going to take me, but it is a step," she said. "You know that it's an important moment."

Mauresmo won the first of her two 2006 Slams in Australia

Where that step ultimately took was the Australian Open title of 2006, the beginning of a career-best season that also included winning the Wimbledon title and returning to world No.1.