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By Chris Oddo | Sunday August 20, 2017

It was dubbed a potential coronation, but ended as a drubbing.

Tennis Now 📺: Nadal and Federer set to Battle for No.1 in New York

Such is life in tennis’ fast lane, particularly when Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza is rounding into form.

The Spaniard spoiled Simona Halep’s third shot at the No.1 ranking by executing a dominant 6-1, 6-0 victory in 56 minutes in Sunday’s Western and Southern Open final, and in the process Muguruza has placed herself right in the middle of the race for the WTA’s top ranking ahead of next week’s U.S. Open.

Halep had little answer for the Spaniard’s consistent ground game on Sunday and lost for the third time this summer when one win would have vaulted her to the WTA’s top spot. She fell this June at Roland Garros to Jelena Ostapenko, then again at Wimbledon to Johanna Konta in the quarterfinals.

But Halep has shown true resilience this summer and was once again knocking on the door in Cincinnati, with just five ranking points separating her and current World No.1 Karolina Pliskova heading into the final.

But the story on Sunday—and all week in Cincinnati—was not about the tour’s top two-ranked players but rather Muguruza. The Spaniard has now won 16 of 18 matches since the start of Wimbledon and this week she answered all the questions about whether she could ever be the type of player that produced consistent domination rather than sporadic big-match brilliance.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter, but at just 23, Muguruza has the makings of being one of the game’s most dominant forces for years to come.

She showed the world why in her thrashing of Halep on Sunday.

Rather than go for broke, Muguruza played patient, pragmatic tennis and kept Halep on the run from corner to corner without taking on too much risk. Muguruza hit just eight winners against 15 unforced errors while Halep tossed in 20 unforced errors and only struck six winners.

Muguruza, outshined by Halep all week in return stats, reversed that trend on Sunday and converted five of six of her break point opportunities while saving the two break points she faced.

After falling behind 3-0 early Halep managed her only game of the match in the fourth game of the opening set.

There was not much else coming from her side of the court. Muguruza took the final nine games and pretty much sealed the victory in the fourth game of the second set when she survived seven deuces to secure a 4-0 lead in set two.

Muguruza’s victory in Cincinnati catapults her to No.3 in the WTA rankings, just 530 points behind Pliskova for No.1.


Pliskova is defending runner-up points while Muguruza is defending second-round points. Halep was a quarterfinalist last year in N.Y.

 

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