WTA Cincinnati Final Match Review: Garbiñe Muguruza d. Simona Halep

Garbiñe Muguruza won her fifth title at the 2017 Western & Southern Open, beating Simona Halep, 6-1 6-0 in a one-sided final lasting just 56 minutes. Halep’s quest to be the world number one will go on, while Muguruza goes from strength-to-strength after winning her second Slam at Wimbledon. The Spaniard will be one of those fancied at the US Open, which starts in just a week’s time!

Match Overview

Set 1

Muguruza made a great start to the final, driving off the confidence that must have come from saving match points to beat Madison Keys in the third round and surviving another tight three setter against Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarter-finals. Muguruza was using her serve to set up the points so well and always looking to come forward.

As Muguruza led 4-1 in the first set, Halep’s coach, Darren Cahill, came down and advised her to stay low on her forehand. He also said to Simona “show me you believe” to which Simona responded that she felt she was being positive in her attitude. The next two games went by quickly though with Muguruza wrapping up the set, 6-1.

Muguruza’s pressure, particularly on Halep’s second serve, continued to be decisive as Halep committed a pair of double faults to drop her serve once more. While the Romanian player found a pair of return winners in what would be final game of the set, Muguruza’s serve was still too potent.

Set 2

The second set was a continuation from the first as Muguruza didn’t budge an inch and was spectacularly solid from the baseline. Rather surprisingly, it was Halep who was often making the error first in longer rallies, most of the time off her rather shaky forehand. It felt like Halep was trying to be aggressive, but was too far behind the baseline to make a noteworthy impact on Muguruza.

The match could have turned with Muguruza leading 6-1 *3-0 as the pair played out the longest game of the match featuring seven deuces. Halep was beginning to construct aggressive points and look more secure on the forehand side. Halep had two break points but couldn’t convert with Muguruza once again saving her best tennis for the crux moments. Muguruza held for 4-0 with Halep hitting too many rally balls into the net. From there, Muguruza didn’t look back, storming through the final two games for the loss of one point. Halep was rushing at the end with mostly wild shots.


I had really high hopes for the final and i’m gutted it was such a damp squib. For Halep, this was another brutal loss and she’s had her fair share in the last few months for which i’d guess there is still some mental baggage. I just want to give Simona a hug after this one.

Halep still remains the most consistent player on tour and has reached 10 consecutive quarter-finals stretching all the way back to Indian Wells. However, she has come up short in some key matches, most recently this final and against Elina Svitolina last week in the semi-finals on Toronto. Further back, the losses to Jelena Ostapenko (French Open) and Johanna Konta (Wimbledon) were also noteworthy.

It was a little concerning how quickly she went away at the end after the 3-0 game in the second set. The forehand completely broke down and she looked rather lost in her tactics –  in the final point of the game at 5-0 in the second set, she made the most tentative of net approaches and got stuck at the net. The final game was sad to watch. While I feel Halep’s game is there, so much with the Romanian player comes down to confidence. In terms of being a contender for the US Open, i’d be worried for how she would deal mentally in the key moments of big match-ups.

All the credit to Muguruza for another superb display. Her level was just so consistent and she gave Halep very few looks on serve. The Spaniard was oozing confidence in her groundstrokes, particularly off the much-improved forehand wing. It’s very encouraging to see her coming forward to the net and generally, winning the majority of the points where she does so. One aspect of her game I always find to be quietly impressive is her return – it’s rarely flashy but she gets so many of them back with heavy depth. In this final, she was all over the Halep second serve – the Romanian player won just one of nine points behind it. Something feels different since Wimbledon and her commitment has been top notch. Muguruza has never made it past the second round of the US Open, which is rather baffling since the fast hard courts are a surface that really should suit her game.

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10 thoughts on “WTA Cincinnati Final Match Review: Garbiñe Muguruza d. Simona Halep

  1. All credit to Garbine for playing a great match and she’s a worthy champion, but from what I saw of it (I didn’t see the whole thing), it seems that Simona’s whole strategy was to try and outhit Garbi from the baseline instead of coming into the net, which simply wasn’t going to work against a player who can hit as hard as she can. She could also have tried to mix it up with slices and drop shots (as, say, Aga would have done) and hit more to the sides of the court instead of towards the centre where Garbine could easily pick it up.

    I agree though that the fourth game of the second set was a corker; pity there weren’t more like it in the match.


  2. I’d like Muguruza if she didn’t shriek on every shot. She never used to. She only started doing it about a year ago. It’s not just a result of exertion while hitting the ball.


    • I don’t think Muguruzas grunt is that bad personally. It actually does sound like a weightlifting grunt. It’s a deep exhalation noise using the full lungs, not a superficial wail like Vika or Masha.


      • All I can say is listen next time you see her play. it’s not a grunt, it’s a shout or shriek, totally out of proportion to the effort. Importantly, she never used to do it. Neither did Halep (and she doesn’t always do it… only, it seems, when she’s behind).


      • Hmmm from my recollection, Muguruza has always had a grunt. There have been matches when she hasn’t but i’m sure I remember hearing her grunt in matches since she started out on the tour. Can’t say it really bothers me.


      • I’ve watched the majority of Muguruza’s matches lately. I hear no shriek.

        I agree with Halep. There are a few players who become much louder when under pressure, Kuznetsova and Serena being probably the worst of the womens and Djokovic and Nadal on the mens side. I don’t really understand why they do it because it’s a clear signal to their opponents that they are feeling it big time.


  3. Excellent summary … I too was very disappointed in this one-sided final. I’m sure Halep will have further chances to reach #1, but she certainly is taking her time getting there. As for Muguruza, she is the definition right now of “being in the zone”. Some of her shot making is truly remarkable…so much shape combined with power…it’s a fearsome combination.


  4. Wasn’t surprised at the lopsided result. First and foremost the easiest path to challenge a Muguruza is to counter her ‘nukes’ with your ‘nukes’. If you don’t have said firepower, then fallback on your returns and make sure whatever you have in your arsenal is solid and reliable. But, never forget your ‘brain’, it’s the only level playing field and hers is fairly locked on. Then you can seemingly entertain dreams of beating her in this form.

    To be honest, I didn’t like Halep saying earlier in the week that she was trying to find her limits. I don’t think this is the time to be finding her limits, especially when you have the chase for the top ranking also playing at the back of your mind. At best you should be fine tuning your game and setting yourself up for a solid run. Taking care of the things you do best. There are 4 or 5 other girls gunning for you and whatever spoils the WTA has to offer. Granted the was a rain delay, IIRC, in Svitolina’s match up(Toronto) with Garbine, here was a woman who knew she wasn’t going to out hit Garbine. So, she made sure all other aspects of her play was at peak, especially, the mental side. I hope for the future matches she can find that mental balance in game and workout a winning strategy. Seeing as she hasn’t complained of any significant injuries, it’s in her head.

    Nevertheless, she’s getting to the top end of tournaments so still a good thing and Garbine’s form currently is great so no shame there. I’m happy for Garbine though.


  5. Please please please go on like this, Garbi 🙂 I don’t know what happened (on Twitter there are a few suggestions that it was her loss to Mladenovic) but I’d love for *THIS* Garbine to stay!


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