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!
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.
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.