No.6 seed Garbiñe Muguruza ousted No.7 Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday afternoon to book a spot in the championship match at Akron WTA Finals.
In the first meeting between the Spanish countrywomen, Muguruza needed 1 hour and 25 minutes to dismiss Badosa and make it into season-ending title match for the first time.
Fast facts: The semifinal showdown guaranteed a Spaniard into the singles championship of the WTA Finals for only the second time. Former World No.1 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain was the runner-up to Germany’s Stefanie Graf in 1993.
The victor proved to be two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza, who continues her long stretch of excellent form on Mexican soil. Muguruza now boasts a 13-2 main-draw win-loss record in Mexico over her career.
Muguruza notched her sixth Top 10 win of the season and her 41st Top 10 win overall with her victory over Badosa, the newest member of the Top 10. Muguruza has now won 41 matches this season, her highest total since 2017, when she finished the year 45-18.
Notable quotes: "I think it's the best match that I played so far here in Guadalajara," said Muguruza, after her win. "It was a tough match facing another Spaniard in the semifinals....We've never faced each other before, so it was tricky.
"But I'm very happy that I got the win. Very proud of Paula. She started the year far in the rankings, and now she's a Top 10 player. Very impressive. She deserves a very well rest. Very happy for her year.
"Every time I came here to Mexico, I always feel very welcome, very happy. The environment just clicks with me. Having a [WTA Finals in Mexico] played this year, it was like, 'Okay, Garbiñe, this is your opportunity. You got to give it all, no matter if you win or lose. You have to get out of here and feel like, man, I gave all my energy.' I think I'm doing that."
Said Badosa: "It was very new for me, all these situations, being in these rounds, playing in front of a lot of people. Everything was really big at the beginning of the season, having these results. I think now I quite feel it's more normal and I'm getting used to it. I think that will help me for next year as well if I want to do big things."
Match stats: It was a commanding display by 28-year-old Muguruza, who bested her 24-year-old compatriot by using relentless pressure from start to finish. Muguruza was never broken in the clash, saving all three break points she faced.
Muguruza won 81 percent of points when she got her first serve into play, and took charge when returning Badosa's second serves, winning 64 percent of those points and grabbing three service breaks in the process.
Key moments: With terrific timing and depth, Muguruza earned an early lead by breaking Badosa to move ahead 2-1. Muguruza eased through the opening frame from there without facing a break point, and she earned another break in the final game of the set, closing it out with a forehand winner.
Muguruza took early control of the second set as well, breaking for 2-0 after chasing down a dropshot and forcing a Badosa error with a backhand. But things got dicey in the following game, where Badosa grasped what would end up being her only break points of the match. Muguruza stayed steady and fended off all three, reaching a hefty 3-0 advantage in the set.
Badosa swept away four break points to grit out a tough hold for 4-2 and stay within touching distance. But Muguruza refused to yield on serve, and garnered her first match point at 5-3 with an unreturned serve. Badosa dropped an unforced error into the net at that juncture, and Muguruza moved into her fifth singles final of the season.
Next up: Into the final of the season-ending championships for the first time, Muguruza awaits the result of the nightcap semifinal between Estonia's Anett Kontaveit and Greece's Maria Sakkari. Whichever of those three players wins the event will garner the first WTA Finals singles title for their nation.