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By Tennis Now | Wednesday, September 20, 2017

GarbiƱe Muguruza made a fast start to her first match as world No. 1.

The Wimbledon champion blasted past Monica Puig, 6-4, 6-0, cruising into the Tokyo quarterfinals.

Muguruza: Hold Top Spot As Long As Possible

The 23-year-old Spaniard will play either Caroline Garcia or Kurumi Nara for a semifinal spot.

Olympic gold medal champion Puig pummeled Muguruza, 6-1, 6-1, in the Rio Olympics last summer. In their Tokyo rematch, Muguruza controlled the center of the court and forced the Puerto Rican to defend.

“I’m actually very happy because it was my first match as No. 1,” Muguruza said. “And I’m happy because the last time I played her it didn’t go my way at all and this time, I found a better way to play and got the victory.

“I think on paper it’s different. But I’m not thinking, ‘Oh I’m No. 1, I should win easily’ or anything like that. I have to be ready and every match is going to be tougher now.”

The pair split the first four games. Muguruza broke at love for 3-2 and quickly consolidated for 4-2.

Puig betrayed her cause coughing up five double faults, including a couple of double faults to donate the opening break of the second set. Muguruza, who broke five times, reeled off seven straight games to seal a 74-minute victory.

“She played very well in the Olympic Games. That day I didn’t play well but all credit to her," Muguruza said. "I think I improved a lot as well. I’ve had a good year, I’m a little bit more confident and I knew how to go out there and be aggressive.

"In the second set, I kind of learned what I did well in the first set. She also made a few more mistakes and I made a few more good shots. I think it was just a few things different.rdquo;

Second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, who was displaced as world No. 1 by Muguruza, banged eight aces and won 91 percent of her first serve points dismissing Magda Linette, 6-2, 6-1, in an hour.

It was Pliskova’s second win over the world No. 76 in a month following her straight-sets sweep at the US Open. Pliskova has won six of seven meetings with Linette.

“I felt great today on the court,” Pliskova said. “My serve was working well and I felt I had pretty good depth on my shots so I’m really happy with the win today. I think it was a good start.”

The victory vaults Pliskova into a quarterfinal blockbuster vs. fellow former No. 1 Angelique Kerber in a rematch of the 2016 US Open final, which Kerber won in three sets.

The seventh-seeded German grinded down Daria Kasatkina, 7-6 (5), 6-3. Kastakina beat Kerber twice earlier this season.

Russian power baseliner Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fought off Wang Qiang, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, and will play either fourth seed Johanna Konta or Barbora Strycova for a place in the final four.


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