By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Garbine Muguruza's rapid rise up the world rankings gives Spain hope of adding to its solitary tennis gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, but the 22-year-old is cagey about a dream mixed doubles pairing with Rafa Nadal in Rio.
The world number three is set to play in the singles at Rio and will team up with Carla Suarez Navarro in the doubles, but is hesitant to commit to the mixed doubles due to concerns about the hectic schedule.
Dual Davis Cup and Fed Cup captain Conchita Martinez is keen to nudge Muguruza toward partnering 2008 Olympic singles champion Nadal, who has already spoken of his desire to represent the nation in all three formats.
"Yeah, I thought about it. Well, I still don't know. I didn't have the opportunity yet to kind of sit down and see the chances," Muguruza told reporters at Melbourne Park on Tuesday after winning her first-round match 6-0 6-4 over unseeded Estonian Anett Kontaveit.
Muguruza, seeded third at the Australian Open, said she would have to weigh up the workload, given that Rio's tournament will be sandwiched between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
"I think it's going to be crazy if I play like three modalities in a week but for sure it will be amazing," added Muguruza, who was born in Caracas and moved to Spain with her family when she was six.
Muguruza has been tipped as a grand slam champion-in-waiting after a break-out 2015 in which she made the final of a major for the first time at Wimbledon and also reached the quarters of the French Open.
Coping with her higher profile will be among her greatest challenges in beating the second-year blues which struck Eugenie Bouchard last year after the Canadian's brilliant 2014.
Muguruza's performance against Kontaveit will have reassured Spanish hearts at Rod Laver Arena, however, as she pranced around a sun-splashed center court to fire 22 winners past the Estonian battler.
It was also something of a relief for Muguruza, who was forced to pull out of her first match at the Brisbane International in the leadup to rest a long-standing foot injury.
"I have a few problems on my foot but well, I think I'm recovered now," said Muguruza, who next faces Belgian Kirsten Flipkens.
"Yeah, it was definitely a good start. You never know how it's going to go, first match always in a grand slam.
"I'm pretty pleased of my level, and obviously that I was really concentrated during the whole match."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)