NEW YORK, NY, USA - Opening the 2017 US Open on Arthur Ashe stadium, Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza made quick work of unseeded Varvara Lepchenko to open her US Open campaign 6-0, 6-3.
Over the course of a 21-minute first set, the No.3 seed did not lose a point on her first service, and dropped just eight overall; she did not allow her opponent to even reach game point on her own delivery, let alone carve out any break points. The World No.64 opted to go toe-to-toe from the baseline with Muguruza, but over a number of high-octane power-based rallies was too often the one whose strokes broke down first: the American contributed 15 unforced errors to Muguruza's meagre three in the opener.
When Lepchenko, who reached the fourth round at Flushing Meadows two years ago and had not lost before the third round here since 2014, raised her game from the back of the court at the start of the following set, Muguruza was ready to raise her own in response, improving her number of winners from three in the first set to 10 in the second. The 23-year-old's improvement at the net has been a key to her success at the very top of the game in recent years, and her efficiency on the volley proved vital on a number of key points in the second set.
Moreover, Muguruza was also more adept at improvisation when the action shifted away from baseline power hitting - sealing the fifth game of the set, for example, with a flicked forehand pass hit while moving backwards - and her superior defensive skills caused Lepchenko to stamp her foot in frustration after failing to put away one key point.
Though the 31-year-old stuck doggedly with her game plan to retrieve the first break of serve in the second set to pull back to 3-4, Muguruza - the Porsche Race to Singapore leader as of her title in Cincinnati a week ago - had yet another level to go to, and reeled off the final eight points of the match to move into a second-round encounter against either Duan Ying-Ying or qualifier Claire Liu.