TOKYO, Japan - No.1 seed Garbiñe Muguruza continued her serene progress through the Toray Pan Pacific Open draw with an imposing 6-2, 6-4 victory over ninth seed Caroline Garcia.
It was the first meeting between the two hard-hitting 23-year-olds, and it was Muguruza who lived up to her new No.1 ranking in a thoroughly dominant 29-minute opening set. The Spaniard converted both of her break point opportunities efficiently while conceding just four points behind her own delivery; reeling off 17 of 19 points as she steamrolled her way from 1-1 to 5-1, she was ruthless in stamping her authority on the match. "I felt my game was there, my intensity, and I'm happy that in important moments I played well," Muguruza said afterwards.
Garcia failed to help her own cause with back-to-back double faults in the fifth game and a slew of errors throughout the set, particularly in attempting to unleash her huge forehand too early in rallies - but such was Muguruza's relentless power and solidity in longer points that she left her French rival with little other option.
The second set started in the same vein, with Garcia sending another forehand wide on the very first point en route to getting broken off the bat. When Muguruza carved out a point for a double break lead - via a spectacular reflex backhand winner - it looked as though the match might turn into a rout.
The World No.20 rallied to hold on to her delivery, though - the second set found her finding her range on serve, raising her first serve percentage from 50% to 63% - and three games later a foray to the net earned her a first break point chance on the Muguruza service. In an uncharacteristic blip, the top seed conceded her lead with a double fault.
The second set turned on the following game. It was an epic four-deuce tussle on the Garcia serve in which the Frenchwoman squandered two game points - the first on a forehand long, the second thanks to a ferocious Muguruza backhand winner down the line - before succumbing to the power of a Muguruza backhand pass.
With the break under her belt once more, the World No.1 needed just two more efficient service holds to book her spot in the semifinals, where she will face either No.4 seed Caroline Wozniacki or No.5 seed Dominika Cibulkova.
Afterwards, Muguruza spoke about her approach to living up the the pressure of the top rankings spot. "To achieve this dream I've had since I was a child gives me a lot of confidence first," she said. "A boost of motivation to hold this position - because I think it's the best."