CINCINNATI, OH, USA - No.4 seed Garbiñe Muguruza powered her way to her second title of the season at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Sunday with a commanding 6-1, 6-0 victory over No.2 seed Simona Halep.
The win, the fifth WTA title in her career, marks the first time that Muguruza has won multiple titles in a season.
For the second straight year in Cincinnati, a player took the court with the No.1 ranking on the line, but Halep - who will sit just five ranking points behind Karolina Pliskova on Monday with the defeat - never got going in the face of relentless tennis from Muguruza's end of the court.
"I think today was my best performance of the tournament, because I felt like I played 20 hours in that court, you know. I had very long matches," Muguruza said after the match. "Tt was just there. I think I did few little mistakes and my shots were very [well] placed and I think I was doing almost everything right there.
"Since the first ball, honestly, I knew there was going to be a lot of long rallies, and she's a very solid player and, you know, very tough, as well. I was ready for it. I was looking to play my game, to be aggressive since the first moment."
After sprinting out to a 3-0 lead in the opener, the Spaniard proved in total command over the course of the 56-minute victory, with the exception of a marathon seven-deuce game of the second set in which the Wimbledon champion saved a pair of break points as Halep tried to find a way back into the match.
"I felt there was a key game in the second set, the 3-0 game, but I felt -- I felt very comfortable there, playing against Simona, and also my level was very high," Muguruza said. "I felt like especially in the second set I could raise it a little bit more and close the match."
Though Halep led Muguruza 2-1 in their head-to-head prior to the match, they hadn't played in two years since the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart in 2015, and Sunday's encounter marked the first time they faced off with both players holding a Top 10 ranking.
Precise, aggressive tennis from the Wimbledon champion earned her a total of five breaks of serve, and the last nine games of the match after Halep held to mark her lone game of the contest.
"She played really well, first of all, and she was hitting very strong, and after a few games I got down with the confidence," said Halep in defeat. "I tried to hit the ball and couldn't much, then I tried to go back a little bit and was not good. I don't really know what I had to do, and I think she was just too good today."
Despite the dominant victory in the final, Muguruza played a pair of marathon matches en route to taking the trophy, saving three match points against Madison Keys in the third round before battling for nearly three hours against Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals.
"That's a tough draw, you know, because all the players that I have played, they're in a good moment," she said. "I knew it's gonna be a tough draw, because all these tournaments are very difficult. I felt in Toronto I had a tough draw, as well. I was almost in the locker room in the third match. I turned it around. I won, and then that gave me, you know, a boost for the next days.
"In the past, this swing is never my best swing, and I'm happy that this year I kind of have a consistency of my results."
With Muguruza's victory, Pliskova remains No.1 in the singles rankings, and with Lucie Safarova ascending to World No.1 in doubles, two Czechs will sit at the top of the WTA rankings for the first time. The Spaniard also returns to the top three in the world rankings, just over 500 points behind the top spot.
"I was thinking about [Halep reaching No.1]. I'm like, 'Oh, I wish I was in her situation.' It must be difficult, but I wanted the title, as well," the Spaniard confessed. "Now you're telling me I'm going to be No.3, but I didn't know that. I feel like a lot of people are asking me about No. 1, stuff like that. All I want is to win the tournaments. That's what...motivates me always.
"[The ranking] is going to be a consequence. If I keep playing like this, sooner or later I guess I will be, I don't know. I hope so - but, no, it's not here yet like that."