Muguruza breezes past Puig to reach Tokyo quarters
Muguruza breezes past Puig to reach Tokyo quarters
Earlier, second seed Karolina Pliskova, who held the top ranking briefly over the summer, crushed Poland’s Magda Linette 6-2, 6-1 as the Czech set up a clash with another former world No. 1, Angelique Kerber.
Wimbledon champion Muguruza recovered from an indifferent start to reach the last eight in Tokyo, the top seed catching fire after a trade of early breaks to rattle off the last seven games.
A booming serve down the middle sealed the first set for the Spaniard, who seemed intent on hitting the fur off the ball in her first match since reaching the top of women’s WTA rankings last week.
Muguruza, chasing a third title of the year, roared through the second, a murderous backhand pass giving her a 3-0 lead to effectively kill off any hopes Puig had of mounting a comeback.
The Puerto Rican, who upset Muguruza on her way to winning a shock gold medal at last year’s Rio Olympics, fell apart thereafter as her Spanish tormentor turned the screw, bringing the match to a close with an ace after an hour and 14 minutes.
“The last time I played her it didn’t go my way at all,” Muguruza told reporters.
“I’m also happy to win my first match as number one. To be honest nothing has really changed but I know every match is going to be even tougher now.”
Pliskova likewise tore through her second-round match, the world No. 4 taking exactly an hour to see off Linette.
A ferocious forehand gave the Czech an early break in the first set, which she pocketed thanks to a clinical cross-court backhand.
The second set was almost a carbon copy as Pliskova again raced to a 3-0 lead before a thunderous backhand pass brought a double break.
The end came mercifully swiftly for a dejected Linette, who wafted a Pliskova serve wide on match point to sum up her contribution to a lop-sided contest.
“The No. 1 ranking is not really my goal,” insisted Pliskova, chasing a fourth title of the year and 10th of her career.
“It would be great to end the year there,” added the 25-year-old, who beat Linette in the first round of the US Open by the same score before losing in the quarterfinals earlier this month.
“But my aim right now is just to try to win more titles.”
German Kerber booked her place in the quarter-finals with a 7-6, 6-3 victory over Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in the day’s late match.
Elsewhere, China’s Wang Qiang failed to capitalize on her stunning 6-0, 6-0 ambush of eighth seed Kristina Mladenovic as she was bundled out 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 by Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Muguruza heads a strong field in Tokyo featuring several top 10 players including Pliskova, Johanna Konta and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.
Djokovic wins Cincinnati title to complete Masters matched set
- Novak Djokovic finally lifted the Cincinnati trophy after five prior Cincinnati finals losses
- Roger Federer, meanwhile, lost a final in the hardcourt US Open tuneup for the first time
CINCINNATI: Novak Djokovic ended a career-long jinx, lifting the trophy in Cincinnati at last to complete a matched set of Masters 1000 titles.
Djokovic, who came up empty in five prior Cincinnati finals, defeated seven-time winner Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4 in the final.
The former world number one became the first man to win all nine of the ATP’s Masters 1000 events in the elite series’ current configuration.
Federer, meanwhile, lost a final in the hardcourt US Open tuneup for the first time.
“I played five finals (here) before, and most of those finals I lost to this great man, Roger ... thank you for letting me win here once in Cincinnati,” Djokovic joked.
“This is a dream come true,” Djokovic said. “I finally won Cincinnati after six finals, some against the greatest ever, Roger.”
Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam winner, said his game wasn’t sharp — but he didn’t want to take anything away from Djokovic’s achievement.
“Novak is a great champion,” Federer said. “This is about him making history.”
Federer’s streak of 100 straight unbroken service games in Cincy was ended by Djokovic in the seventh game of the first set.
The 37-year-old Swiss had been aiming for a 99th career trophy, but was unable to get over the line due in part to four double-faults at the most inopportune of times, but he said his return game was also lacking.
“It was definitely not my best day on the return — it was just awful,” Federer said. “Missing every second serve on the forehand side, I don’t know what that was about.
“But I don’t even want to look for reasons why it happened,” he added. “Novak totally deserved to win today. This (effort) was not good enough.
“Good week, but I’m happy it’s over and I need to rest,” added Federer, his eye on the US Open starting in New York in eight days.
Djokovic claimed the opening set in 37 minutes and came back from an early break in the second to overhaul his longtime rival as they played for the 46th time.
The Serb now leads Federer 24-22 and has won their last three encounters.
The pair had not played since the 2016 Australian Open semifinals more than two and a half years ago.
Wimbledon champion Djokovic claimed his Masters record on his first match point and now heads to the US Open as a title favorite after a string of sub-par seasons and an elbow injury which required surgery.
“It’s a wonderful feeling. it’s been a couple of tough months for me with an injury and then winning Wimbledon and Cincinnati,” Djokovic said.
Federer started the match with three aces in the opening game, then added a pair of love games for a 3-2 lead.
But it began to unravel as the Swiss double-faulted to yield a break point, dropping serve as Djokovic moved ahead 4-3.
Djokovic took advantage for a 5-3 lead and closed out the set after 37 minutes.
Federer broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set but gave the break back immediately as he double faulted to give Djokovic a break point which the Serb promptly converted.
Djokovic broke again to lead 4-3, and after Federer held to close the gap to 4-5 Djokovic ended the afternoon in the next game on his first match point.