2017 Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza dropped just one game, beating Simona Halep in a one-sided affair in Cincinnati. The title in Cincinnati is the fifth title that Muguruza has won on the WTA Tour level, with 2 of her 5 titles coming at Grand Slams.
It was a perfect display of aggressive tennis from Muguruza. Many people align total winners as a sign of how aggressive a player is on the court. Muguruza demonstrated that it is not only about the winners you make, but it is about the placement of the aggressive ball strike and the uncomfortable positions you put your opponent in in order to prevail in the point. Muguruza managed to hit numerous shots that manufactured forced errors from Halep, with Halep spewing errors on the forehand side.
The Muguruza win represents another tournament where she has produced positive results. After her win in Wimbledon, Muguruza has made at least the Quarter-Final in her last three tournaments, including a title win today in Cincinnati. Many people were crying out for a more consistent version of the now-experienced Muguruza and it is safe to say that she is starting to deliver that consistency on a regular basis. That is the difference between being a good player and being a great player – getting that consistency for most weeks of the year regardless of the circumstances or how you are feeling on the court. Muguruza is learning that after three really big seasons at Grand Slam level.
What does this loss mean for Simona Halep? It is another disappointment and another setback. You could argue that not carrying the pressure and burden of being a World No.1 could actually help her at the US Open in Flushing Meadows, but there must be several mental scars there after yet another close call in her bid to secure the World No.1 ranking. When you watch her play these matches you get the sense that the World No.1 ranking is right at the front of her mind and it is preventing her from making that next step, because it means so much to her and understandably so.
Halep won just 12 points in the first set and lost it 6-1, but provided a slight fight back in the second set. The fourth game of the second set saw Halep generate two break points with some much more aggressive play, but overall Muguruza was the player dictating the points, taking the ball early and ultimately rushing her opponent into many forced errors. Muguruza did not drop a single game in the second set and sent a serious statement of intent to the rest of the field for the US Open. It was as close to a masterclass as you would expect from an in-form, confident and rising WTA player, who now puts herself forward as the player to beat going into the final Grand Slam of the season.