It’s hard to pick one moment in a 6-1, 6-0 win that symbolizes the entire match. After all, that resounding a win doesn’t really even have that many points in it. But if I had to, I’d pick the point at 15-40, 0-4 in the second set, where Simona Halep was drawn to the net by a short ball hit by Garbiñe Muguruza. Normally a dogged counterpuncher, Halep hit a half-hearted shot into the net. The point perfectly expresses both the utter dominance of Muguruza, who seems to be gaining momentum at a huge clip, and the hopelessness of Halep’s predicament in facing the 2017 Wimbledon champion.
They say that for players in the zone, time moves slowly — and one hopes that it did for Garbiñe Muguruza today, because for the rest of us, the match seemed to be over before it began. Muguruza began with the hard, flat groundstrokes that helped her run through Karolina Pliskova in a one-sided semifinal yesterday. Today, Muguruza started fast, getting to a 4-0 lead in the first set, and never really looking back. She moved Halep around the court, and used her depth of shot to keep Halep back and on the run. Like her fellow-power players, Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova, Muguruza has a way of making her wins seem inevitable when she is on form. Save for one hard-fought loss to a zoning Elina Svitolina in Toronto, she’s looked (and been) unbeatable since Wimbledon.
As for Halep, this is yet another hard pill to swallow. She has played so many high stakes matches this year — multiple finals, multiple chances at the number one ranking, but she has emerged with only one title to show for it. The trick for her, ultimately, is to look at these runs as a positive development. After all, she is ranked number two, and she is continuing to put herself in the position to win titles and gain the number one ranking, despite the disappointments she has suffered this year. There will be days where her opponent can take the racquet out of her hand, but she will need to go back to the drawing board on how to manage Muguruza in the zone — if that’s even possible.
In a year noted as much for the absences of Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Victoria Azarenka, however, the emergence of Garbiñe Muguruza, world beater, couldn’t come at a better time. Post-Wimbledon, she seems to be more easily confident than she was after her Roland Garros win. In Cincinnati, she showed no signs of letting up anytime soon.