Muguruza, Dimitrov clinch their first Cincinnati titles
Muguruza, Dimitrov clinch their first Cincinnati titles
Muguruza defeated Simona Halep 6-1, 6-0 for her first Western & Southern Open title on Sunday, needing only 56 minutes to extend her run of success. She also denied Halep yet another chance to move up to No. 1 in the WTA rankings.
“Honestly, I was thinking in her situation, it must be difficult,” Muguruza said. “But I wanted to win the title as well.”
On the men’s side, seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov beat Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5 for his first ATP Masters title, emerging from a bracket decimated by injuries to top players.
Muguruza won her first title in the US and her second of the year, along with Wimbledon. In three tournaments since, the Spaniard has at least reached the quarterfinals. Now it is on to New York for the US Open, where she has got a history of disappointment.
“The tough matches never go my way, so I want to change that,” she said. “I want to find the recipe this year.”
It was a big disappointment for Halep — the third time this season that she needed one more win to move up to No. 1 and could not get it. She came up just short at the French Open and Wimbledon, and had it in the back of her mind the last few weeks.
Perhaps that had something to do with the poor showing.
“Maybe I feel the pressure and I don’t realize it,” Halep said. “Maybe I just played bad. I don’t know what to say. But it’s still there. I still have a chance, so I will work for it and maybe one day it will be there.”
Halep also finished as the runner-up at Cincinnati in 2015, losing to Serena Williams. She brought a lot of momentum into this final title match. The Romanian is fully healed from a knee injury that limited her early in the season, and she did not lose a set all week until Sunday, when she was never in the match.
Muguruza broke her to go up 2-0 in the first set and was in control. Halep won only 12 points in the set, which lasted 23 minutes. Muguruza broke her again to open the second set and faced only two break points all match.
“When I feel on court that I got dominated a little bit — I felt that I cannot control the points — and that’s maybe why I got a little big down in my confidence,” Halep said.
When it ended, Muguruza congratulated Halep and walked around the court with her smiling face cradled in both hands. Then she put her hands over her heart and reached toward the applauding crowd.
The women’s bracket was missing Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. Muguruza knocked off defending champion Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.
The men’s bracket lacked Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and defending champion Marin Cilic because of injuries. Dimitrov took advantage and won a title with his steady serve — he was broken only once all week.
Kyrgios had only two break chances and failed to convert either during the 1-hour, 25-minute final. Neither player had reached a Masters title match until this week. Dimitrov said his shoulder felt heavy as he sensed the moment and served out the match.
“In moments like that, it’s so difficult,” Dimitrov said. “There’s so many things going through your head. Today there was a lot more on the line for me so yeah, the weight was a bit more.”
Kyrgios was delighted to reach a final after a hip injury prompted him to quit several matches this summer, including at Wimbledon.
“Where I was three weeks ago — it wasn’t good at all — and now I’m in a Masters final,” Kyrgios said. “That’s a very Nick Kyrgios thing to do. I don’t know. It’s crazy.”
'We want to make Saudi Arabia proud': Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt
- Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday
- Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious
ROSTOV-ON-DON: “Keeping possession of the ball seems to be the absolute and most important thing, but then when you sometimes find issues in getting the ball into your opponent’s half, you have to find other movements and ways of doing that,” said Oscar Tabarez after watching his lackluster Uruguay rely on a solitary Luis Suarez goal to eliminate Saudi Arabia from the World Cup.
Tabarez was talking about his own team’s struggles, yet the assessment is considerably more applicable to the Green Falcons, who dominated possession and retained the ball with ease in midfield, yet for the second match running looked absolutely bereft of ideas in the final third. With Uruguay and Russia now on six points, Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday.
The Green Falcons coach Juan Antonio Pizzi confirmed he intends to stay at the helm of the side for the long-haul, yet is only too aware that the potential of this team is being hamstrung by its inability to score. He called it “our weakness”, adding that his side enjoyed “good ball possession, but no effectiveness”. They, he said, did not have the sufficient “weapons or tools” to equalize.
Pizzi’s side have found the net now just twice in their past five games and against Uruguay managed only three shots on target in 90 minutes — two of which came in added time and were so tame they would hardly have troubled the opposition goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had he been relaxing at his far post sipping a drink. In the 5-0 defeat to Russia last week, they failed to muster a single shot on target.
Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious. One passage of play in the opening exchanges saw Saudi Arabia complete 16 passes untroubled without the ball entering the opposition penalty box. When Uruguay finally won possession, they required only four quick exchanges to find Edinson Cavani on the left wing drilling the ball across the front of goal.
“I don’t share that assessment,” said Pizzi, when it was put to him that his team was too slow to attack. “We played at the speed that was necessary. We need to be accurate, but if you step up the speed you lose accuracy with your passes. We had control of the game and that was why.”
Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi had been the focal point of much criticism from Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, after the Russia “fiasco” and was dropped from the side against Uruguay. So too was goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, another who Al-Sheikh name-checked as having been at fault.
Pizzi, asked whether the scathing assessment from his bosses had forced his hand when it came to team selection, calmly dismissed the suggestion. He also ruled out the notion that administrative issues between the players and the country’s football federation had caused unrest in his squad.
“I have a list of 23 players here and they are all available to play. We are here together and pushing in the same direction.
“I wanted — and still want — to make the Saudi Arabian people feel proud of our energy and the desire we show in matches. Unfortunately we were unable to do that against Russia and will be playing our next match without any hope of progressing. I hope now they will feel a little more proud even though we are out of the World Cup,” he said.