LONDON, Great Britain - No.14 seed Garbiñe Muguruza fired the first warning shots of the Wimbledon semifinals, rolling past Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-1, 6-1, to reach her third career major final, and second at the All England Club.
"I wasn't expecting anything because you never know how it's going to go," Muguruza said after the match. "I saw her play before. I saw she was playing very good, very talented.
"I just expected myself to be ready as much as I could. Maybe the score did look maybe more easier than actually playing during the games."
Rybarikova had enjoyed a fairytale fortnight through five rounds, riding an impressive grass court momentum from two ITF Challenger titles into the All England Club to shock soon-to-be WTA World No.1 Karolina Pliskova in the second round.
Emphatic in her quarterfinal win over No.24 seed and tournament darkhorse CoCo Vandeweghe, the Slovak was poised to be a tough test for Muguruza, who had lost just one set through five wins and dethroned top seed Angelique Kerber on Manic Monday.
"What I remember from Wimbledon is just the matches, all these finals. You know, going out in the court. They carried your bag, everybody is silent. More this kind of stuff that is different than even the match.
"Just for me it's incredible to be here in another final, because it means a lot. It's a Grand Slam. I lost one here two years ago, so I really look forward this one to try to change that."
Their last match at a major tournament had gone all the way to 14-12 in the final set, with Rybarikova's variety able to flummox Muguruza's raw power.
That raw power was clearly refined for Thursday's semifinal. With coach and former champion Conchita Martinez watching from the stands, the 2015 Wimbledon runner-up brought a laser focus to hit a whopping 22 winners to just 11 unforced errors in the 64-minute encounter.
"Maybe it looks easy, but everything is inside. You're out there. Even if the score is 6-1, 4-1, you're never calm, no matter what happen. I could be 6-1, 5-0. Doesn't matter.
"So I try to be composed, and until I don't give the hand, it's not mine yet."
Martinez has been working closely with Muguruza's regular coach, Sam Sumyk, but the No.14 seed admitted the new voice has been clearly heard over the fortnight.
"I think she's helping me to deal with the stress of the tournament, because it's a long tournament. I've already been here a while. So, one day yes, one day no, one day yes, one day no. So she just knows, you know, how to prepare, how to train, what to do.
"Not that I'm doing something different, honestly. But, you know, to have her by my side gives me also this little confident on having someone that has won before."
Overwhelmed by the occasion, Rybarikova only managed eight winners in the face of the Spaniard's aggressive onslaught, losing serve five times for a tough end to her otherwise glittering fortnight, one that helped her return to World No.33, two spots of her career-high ranking, after being ranked outside the Top 400 this spring.
"If somebody told me before the tournament I'm going to be in semifinal, I'd for sure take it," Rybarikova said. "You tell me I'm going to lose 6-1, 6-1...
"Obviously it's very short after the match, and I'm a little bit disappointed. But it's still great. Maybe it's even better. Can you imagine I had lost 8-6 in the third? That would crazy for me. I would be so close. But I was not that close today. She deserved to win completely this match.
"I would like to play better next time, also for the crowd. But if somebody would tell me before, I would take this. It's for sure good tournament for me."
Standing between the former French Open champion and a second Grand Slam title is former No.1 and five-time champion Venus Williams, who dismissed British No.1 Johanna Konta, 6-4, 6-2.
"Facing Venus, she won here, like, five times," Muguruza noted. "She knows how to play, especially Wimbledon finals. It's going to be, you know, like a historic final again."