Saturday, August 19, 2017

Muguruza advances to her first U.S. final

Playing a mentally and physically tired Karolina Pliskova on Center Court today, Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza advanced to the Western & Southern Open final, her first final in a U.S. venue. The Spaniard played as closely to perfectly as we are likely to see, hitting 15 winners and making only 13 unforced errors. There were only three break points against her in the match, and she saved all of them. Muguruza ended the match with a first serve win percentage of 80.

Things didn't look good for Pliskova in the very first game, which was very long, and which ended with a break. The world number 1 didn't even see a break point. She looked more competitive in the second set, but in the sixth game, she was broken at 15 when Muguruza hit a crosscourt backhand into the corner of the ad court. That was the beginning of the end, and after an hour and 19 minutes, the Spaniard emerged with a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
Photo by Leslie Billman

After the match, when asked about her fatigue, Pliskova said that the scheduling (she had to play two  matches yesterday because of rain) created problems both physically and mentally. She pointed out that it wasn't just that she had to play three matches in a row, but that she had to play three different types of matches in a row against a varied group of Camila Giorgi, Caroline Wozniacki and Muguruza. "I just wasn't there today," she added.

Pliskova said that it didn't help that Muguruza--against whom she now has a 6-2 record--was hitting everything to her backhand, making her less able to be aggressive.

Asked about whether she has some type of ritual--a favorite food, a glass of wine, shopping, etc.--after she experiences a loss, the Pliskova replied, in her typically droll manner, that she doesn't--and that she doesn't want to develop one.

Pliskova will remain number 1 in the world if Simona Halep does not win the Cincinnati title. Halep will play Sloane Stephens later today in the second semifinal.

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