NEW YORK, NY, USA - In a rematch of their Wimbledon semifinal, No.3 seed Garbiñe Muguruza again made short work of No.31 seed Magdalena Rybarikova by an identical scoreline of 6-1, 6-1 - a result that moved her into the second week of the US Open for the first time, reaffirmed her status as one of the title favorites this fortnight and knocked two of her rivals out of contention for the No.1 ranking.
The Spaniard's dominance in this match-up in 2017 is a testament to her improvement. In her early career, there were clear indications that Muguruza struggled against the Slovak's idiosyncratic game, losing twice in four meetings prior to this year and needing a 14-12 final set to triumph in another of those encounters. But in the finest year of Rybarikova's career so far, she has been permitted just four games in two meetings by the Wimbledon champion.
Today, instead of getting tangled up in the No.31 seed's web of spins, net rushes and dropshots, Muguruza made it seem lightweight with relentless heavy hitting. Such as the No.3 seed's consistent power off the baseline that she could frequently break her opponent's groundstrokes down without taking too many risks: Rybarikova committed 11 unforced errors over the course of the match, but the 16 mistakes that Muguruza forced were evidence of the gulf between them.
In a 27-minute first set, the No.31 seed won only 13 points, and reached game point only once - in the fifth game, which she converted when the Wimbledon champion made a rare misfire on return.
The match wasn't just decided by a power differential, though - indeed, it must have seemed to Rybarikova as though the tables had been turned on her somewhat. The 28-year-old, whose game hinges on her proficiency on the volley, won just five of 12 points at net - whereas Muguruza, whose command of the shot has been a gradual one thanks to her determination in forcing herself up into the forecourt over the past few years, captured 15 of her 21 net points. Neither were Rybarikova's trademark dropshots working: too often they would either hit the net, or Muguruza would chase them down to power down a putaway.
The No.31 seed's most successful passage of the match came in the opening game of the second set, which at 12 minutes lasted almost half as long as the entire first set. Striking her pancake-flat forehand with renewed pace, Rybarikova came through five deuces to break Muguruza for the first and only time on her fourth - and final - break point.
The 23-year-old was entirely unfazed, though - and would concede just eight more points en route to duplicating the scoreline of their Wimbledon semifinal, clocking in at four minutes shorter in length. A tantalizing fourth round against No.13 seed Petra Kvitova awaits Muguruza - who, with this victory, has also knocked Simona Halep and Venus Williams out of contention for the No.1 ranking following the US Open. The top spot is now up for grabs between Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina and Muguruza herself.