Garbine Muguruza of Spain reacts after winning the women’s singles title at the China Open in Beijing. (Reuters)
Garbine Muguruza smashed Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets to claim the biggest title of her career in Beijing yesterday —and immediately set her sights on winning the WTA Finals and becoming world number one.
This year’s Wimbledon finalist overcame a slow start by both players to clinch the China Open trophy 7-5, 6-4 and soar to a projected fourth in the rankings—just one point behind Maria Sharapova. The win comes just a week after the 22-year-old, dubbed “Mushroom” in China because her name sounds like “mushroom” in Chinese, retired from last week’s Wuhan Open final against Venus Williams with a thigh injury.
It caps an exhilarating run for the statuesque Spaniard, who celebrated her birthday with a cake on court and also sealed her spot at the year-ending WTA Finals en route to the trophy match. But even while she toasted a career-high ranking as well as winning her second career title, Muguruza was already pondering a bigger prize: world number one. “There’s only three more (players) in front of me. It feels good. It feels that you’re doing your things in a right way,” she said, adding: “Three more. Three more.”
Next up for Muguruza is the WTA Finals season climax in Singapore, where she has a chance to quickly cement her status as the coming force of women’s tennis.
With Serena Williams out of the season finale and Simona Halep and Sharapova—the only other players ahead of her in the rankings—nursing injuries, she could end up as the top seed. “I think I’m playing good. I need to keep my level for Singapore. I think I have options. It’s going to be a battle out there,” she said.
“But I earned my place, so that means that I can hopefully hold the trophy. Let’s see what happens, I don’t know.”
Switzerland’s Bacsinszky, who has reached top 10 in the rankings with her performance in Beijing, refused to be downhearted despite letting slip a 5-2 lead in the first set.
“You know, you can always ask for better. But just be happy with what you have. It’s how I feel right now. I’m just super-proud of what I did,” she said.
“I think I’ve never imagined ever in my whole life to be one day top 10. Right now I’m top 10... just looking back with what I’ve achieved right now, I have goosebumps.”
Muguruza recovered strongly from a losing position in an error-strewn first set as both players made heavy weather of winning their service games at Beijing’s National Tennis Stadium.
Muguruza was rocking at 2-5 down but after holding serve with a rasping backhand down the line, she reeled off five games in a row and gobbled up her first set point when her opponent flashed a forehand wide.
The second set was a much tighter affair but Muguruza grabbed the crucial break for 5-4 and she went to match point when Bacsinszky went just long with a hopeful lob.
And Bacsinszky crumbled under the pressure, hitting a backhand into the net as Muguruza clasped her hands to the face and fell to the ground in celebration.
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