BIRMINGHAM, England - No.6 seed Garbiñe Muguruza broke new ground at the Aegon Classic on Thursday, as she reached the quarterfinals for the first time in her career with a 6-1, 6-4 defeat of American Alison Riske.
The former Wimbledon finalist was in blistering form for nearly the duration of the 94-minute encounter, but was forced to survive some late resistance from the American, a two-time semifinalist in Birmingham and a dangerous grass-court player, late in the second set.
After saving a pair of match points in the eighth game, the American built a 0-30 lead on Muguruza's serve only to see the opportunity pass her by and Muguruza seal the win with her seventh ace.
"I was hitting the ball pretty good. I think she also was playing pretty good, so it was a very kind of equal match," Muguruza said post-match. "The balls were very long, a lot of rallies, which is not usual maybe on this surface. Yeah, I think [it was] a good level of tennis."
The Spaniard struck 26 winners in the match - more than doubling the American's output of 12 - and lost serve only once in the match, while breaking twice in each set.
"I felt comfortable out there," Muguruza said. "I think both of us we kind of enjoy each other's ball, and that's why we were playing good points and serving well. We were fighting."
A lengthy six-deuce game on Riske's serve got the American on the board in the opening set to tie things up at 1-1, but she wouldn't win another in the opener as Muguruza reeled off five straight to take a one-set lead in 40 minutes.
The American earned her first break point of the set in the third game to take what would've been her first lead, and generated another as Muguruza served for the set, but was unable to counter the Spaniard's attacking tennis.
Muguruza's run reached six straight games as she broke Riske to begin the second set, but this time the American was up to the task, and broke the Spaniard's serve right back and held at love to take her first lead of the match.
Another lengthy game on the Riske serve in the fifth game of the match saw Muguruza wrestle back her break advantage - a lead she kept for the duration of the match despite the American's best efforts.
In the last eight, Muguruza will face the winner of Thursday's final second round match between No.4 seed Johanna Konta and American CoCo Vandeweghe. The Spaniard is 1-2 in her career head-to-head against Konta, and trails 1-3 against Vandeweghe all-time.
"I just will go for the match. I don't look at, 'Oh, I lost it last time or she beat me,'" Muguruza said. "For sure, you remember, but you get a new match. Nobody really cares, unless it's something very important, but if you lose to somebody, you are happy to play them again and get revenge, I guess."