MELBOURNE - Spanish prospect Garbine Muguruza Monday said it was time for the new generation of younger players to step up after narrowly losing to "amazing" world number one Serena Williams in Melbourne.
The 21-year-old, who has risen through the rankings since 2010 to be 21 currently, took the first set off the American before the top seed's experience came into play. She eventually lost 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
But Muguruza, who won her first WTA title last year and scored wins over Williams and Caroline Wozniacki, said she was encouraged by what she was seeing from younger players at the Australian Open.
"Well, I think now is like a change in the generation," she said.
"You just have to look the draw and see Madison (Keys), Genie (Bouchard) and me, other young girls in the third and fourth round.
"You see the rankings, the girls born in the 90s are a lot more than before. I think it's time for a change." Williams might not agree, with the evergreen 33-year-old gunning for a 19th Grand Slam title, with Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22 in her sights.
Muguruza admitted Williams remained the player to beat, praising her conviction.
"The hardest part, I mean, mentally she's amazing. She's world number one. She has the power to go through all the match without saying anything, concentrating, waiting for her opportunity," she said.
"The serve, when she serves good, it's really difficult to return. And then in the back, she's very strong. So it's very difficult to find the spot to beat her." Williams could meet her arch-rival Maria Sharapova in the final, and Muguruza knows who she is backing to win, with the Russian failing to beat the American in a decade.
"I think Serena has the game to beat Maria," she said.
"Obviously it has to be mental, when you are losing to her for 10 years, there is something in your head blocking during the match.
"I think the way she plays is not the way to beat Serena. That's what I saw in the 10 years." Williams has a 16-2 record over Sharapova with the Russian's last win coming in 2004.