‘That would be amazing’: Garbine Muguruza keen on playing doubles with Rafael Nadal at Rio Olympics

Muguruza finds herself as one of the favourites at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Spanish captain Conchita Martinez would make decision on a possible mixed doubles partnership in Brazil, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

Spain's Garbine Muguruza returns the ball to Jelena Jankovic during the FedCup on February 7, 2016 in Kraljevo. (AFP)
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DUBAI // Imagine, Roger Federer and Martina Hingis, two of tennis' greatest, on one side of the net, in Swiss colours. On the other, there is Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza, and the two are battling for the mixed doubles gold at this summer's Rio Olympics.

It is a tantalising proposition, one that would make most tennis fans swoon. Muguruza, herself, would feel a bit weak-kneed if she was picked by Spanish captain Conchita Martinez to play mixed doubles alongside 14-time grand slam champion Nadal.

"That would be amazing," said Muguruza, the second seed at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and the highest-ranked Spaniard on the WTA Tour at No 5. "I will be so nervous, by the way. I don't know if it is going to happen, but I am thinking about it definitely."

If both Nadal and Muguruza are fit, it is hard to imagine the Spaniards putting out any other pair in the mixed doubles, especially since Nadal has already announced his preference.

“My intention is to play with Garbine,” Nadal said in an interview with Spanish radio station SER Deportivos Baleares in December. “She has done a fantastic year and is a very good choice.”

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Muguruza, however, is not taking it as a done deal yet, but is definitely looking forward to being a part of the Spanish team in Rio and playing in probably all three tennis events — the singles, mixed doubles and doubles, where she is likely to partner with Carla Suarez Navarro, the world No 8 and the third seed here in Dubai.

A finalist at Wimbledon last year, Muguruza has been playing doubles alongside Navarro since March, 2014, and the pair won three titles in 2015 and made it to the final of the WTA season-ending championship last year. However, that is the last match they played together.

Muguruza has not played any doubles in 2016, as both she and Navarro try to focus on their singles career, but she is hoping to play doubles alongside her compatriot in a “couple of tournaments” before the Olympics.

“I am so excited about the Olympics,” she said. “It will be my first, but I don’t know anything about the mixed. I know some people are talking about it, but I really didn’t. So we will just see at the last moment I guess. But yeah, just looking forward to go there and bring something to Spain.”

Muguruza is so excited about the Olympics, even the threat of the zika virus fails to dampen her spirits.

“Well, I think if they continue doing it [Olympics], it’s because, come on, it’s not going to affect us,” said Muguruza, whose mother is Venezuelan. “I know if it is something dangerous for us, they will not do it.”

Muguruza confirmed her family in Venezuela is safe, but asked if she knew how to protect herself, the Spaniard replied: “I have no idea, but I will search, I will Google, I will do something.”

arizvi@thenational.ae

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