NEW YORK, NY, USA - No.3 seed Garbiñe Muguruza is into the third round at the US Open for the first time after powering past Duan Ying Ying in straight sets, 6-4, 6-0.
The Spaniard holds the top spot on the Porsche Race to Singapore, and she is now one of the seven women left in the draw who can end the fortnight as the WTA World No.1 - and the one with the best shot at the ranking.
Up next, Muguruza will take on No.31 seed Magdalena Rybarikova; if she wins, she will eliminate Simona Halep and Venus Williams from the running and put herself in prime position to reach the top.
“All I want is to win matches, and the ranking sooner or later will come,” she said in her post-match press conference.
“I try to focus on more winning matches here and try to go forward rather than the ranking because is the first step, to win matches, getting far in tournament, and we see after.”
Muguruza’s opponent Duan played well above her World No.92 ranking for much of the opening set. The Chinese player had a great start to her 2017 season, reaching quarterfinals at Sydney and Kuala Lumpur, and as a result was playing in the US Open main draw for the first time as an entrant.
It was Duan who came out swinging after a tight couple of opening games as both players adapted to each other, competing against each other for the first time. Muguruza faced break points early after a sluggish start saw her mistime her heavy ground strokes, but managed to hold on and keep them level.
The Spaniard finally got the decisive break late in the set at 5-4, and consolidated emphatically to close out the set after a marathon last service game with Duan fighting off four set points before giving up the set.
With the first set under her belt, it was smooth sailing for the reigning Wimbledon champion as Duan seemed to deflate and Muguruza reeled off the next six games in a row to make her way into the third round for the first time.
“The first set was very equal, it took me a while,” Muguruza admitted. “You know, she was hitting such a powerful shot. She's very tall. She hits the ball very strong. It took me a little bit to be able to feel her ball.
“I'm happy I turned it around. It was a few points difference in the first set, and it could go both ways. But I fighted there. After I felt much better. I adapt more to the match for the second set.”