PARIS, France - No.3 seed Garbiñe Muguruza is through to the semifinals at Roland Garros without dropping a set after taking down Maria Sharapova in a blockbuster clash of former champions.
The clinical 6-2, 6-1 victory not only puts Muguruza into the final four in Paris for the second year in a row, it also keeps alive the Spaniard’s bid to end the fortnight at the top of the WTA rankings. Of the six women had a chance to leave Paris as the World No.1 at the start of the tournament, today that number is down to two: Simona Halep and Muguruza.
Muguruza came into the match trailing 0-3 in her head-to-head against Sharapova, but not having faced the Russian since 2014. Since their last meeting, Muguruza has gone on to become a two-time major champion and a World No.1.
“Last time we played was a very long time ago, and a lot of things happened in between that,” Muguruza said. “I felt like I was a more developed player. And I was very motivated out there -- it's a Grand Slam quarterfinals.
“I think I did a good performance today, very serious, solid match. I'm happy with that.”
The Spaniard certainly played like it against Sharapova out on Court Philippe-Chatrier, putting in a calm, measured performance against Sharapova. Her serve was on song and as a result, Sharapova didn’t get too many looks at second serves to attack. And Muguruza played clean off the baseline to draw Sharapova into the errors, beating her opponent with her heavy pace.
She reeled off four games in a row to start the opening set a double break to the good, 4-0, before Sharapova finally found her footing. But the Russian couldn’t make a dent in the Muguruza serve, and she didn’t create any break chances as Muguruza ran away with the set.
It was an even more one-sided affair in the second, despite Sharapova starting strong with a break to love at 1-1. Muguruza took advantage of the Russian’s mounting unforced error count - especially off the forehand wing - to get back on track, and she clinically reeled off the last five games in a row to close out the match against Sharapova in just past one hour and 10 minutes.
“I think I have to put a lot of things in perspective for the last, what, four, five weeks since the clay season,” Sharapova said afterwards. “Coming into this part of the year, I was losing a few first-round matches, matches that I wanted to be winning, of course.
“But to have had the victories that I have had, to have the results that I have, obviously moving a step in the right direction. But today was certainly not one of those steps.”
Up next, Muguruza will take on World No.1 Simona Halep in a semifinal clash that leaves the fate of the WTA World No.1 spot in the balance - whichever player advances to the final will take the ranking at the end of the fortnight.
“I mean, [the No.1 ranking] not that important, because it's constantly this thing going on, I don't know, since last year,” Muguruza said. “So I give less importance to that.
“Before, I gave it a lot of importance before, so that's why you're fighting every week, and I got there. And now it's just, it's good to be able to play all the time for that, but every week there is a new chance, there is a new thing. So that's it.”