Garbine Muguruza Outclasses Halep In Cincinnati Final - UBITENNIS
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Garbine Muguruza Outclasses Halep In Cincinnati Final

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The Spaniard started the match in the driver’s seat and never took her foot off the gas. Halep’s lackluster performance was a reflection of her nerves. Pliskova’s No. 1 is safe for now, but not for long.


By Todd Muffie

CINCINNATI – The ladies’ final at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati was a clash between the No. 2-seed Simona Halep of Romania and the No. 4-seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain. The two players locked horns for the first time in over two years with not only the Premier 5 title on the line, but also up for grabs was the No. 1 ranking, which after near misses at Roland Garros and Wimbledon Halep could finally claim with victory at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.

Halep, one of the most efficient defenders on the women’s tour, didn’t drop a set during the entire week and for the third time in as many months she managed to put herself in the position of being only one win away from sitting on top of the world rankings.

After capturing her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon earlier this summer, Muguruza’s road to the Cincy final wasn’t as straightforward as her opponent’s, dropping a couple of sets along the way as well as saving three match points against Madison Keys in the round of 16. Before Sunday’s final, Muguruza lead the head-to-head record with Halep 2-1, winning both encounters on hard courts.

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On a hot and humid Sunday afternoon and in front of a sold-out crowd, the two players had plenty of support from the Cincinnati fans as well as supporters from their own countries. The hopes were high for an entertaining final between two of the most popular players on the WTA Tour. The contrasting styles of the two players were certainly a recipe for beautiful tennis: Muguruza and her powerful game and Halep with her all court counter-punching abilities.

To everyone’s disappointment, today’s final was unfortunately short-lived. The score line was an emphatic 6-1, 6-0 in favor of the Spaniard. Muguruza was poised on the baseline hitting with power and precision and kept Halep on her heels for the entire match. In her post-match press conference, Halep admitted that her nerves affected her ability to move as relentlessly as usual. As a matter of fact, her quick footwork didn’t make an appearance in today’s final at all. The Romanian let Muguruza reel her into a battle of baseline power, instead of playing with her usual variety.

“(Muguruza) played really well, first of all, and she was hitting very strong, and after a few games I got down (in) confidence,” Halep said after the match. “I tried to hit the ball and couldn’t much. Then I tried to go back a little bit and was not good. So today I don’t really know what I had to do, and I think she was just too good today.”

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On the other hand, with this win Muguruza elevates her already stellar summer to even greater heights. The Spaniard seems to have finally found the right balance to capitalize on her success instead of imploding as she did in the past. During the Cincinnati final, she came out on fire and never cooled off.

This is Muguruza’s first title in the United States and judging from the reaction and incredible support that the Spaniard received from the American fans this week, it will probably not be the last.

“I think today was my best performance of the tournament, because I felt like I played 20 hours in that court, you know. I had very long matches,” Muguruza said after the match. “It was just there. I think I did few little mistakes and my shots were very [well] placed and I think I was doing almost everything right there.”

When the new WTA ranking comes out on Monday, Pliskova – who was outclassed by Muguruza in the Cincinnati semifinals – will remain at No. 1 with 6390 points, while Halep will be at No. 2 with 6385. In one of the most exciting races of the past few years, there will only be an incredible five-point gap between the two best players in the world. Muguruza will not be too far behind, in fact she will be ranked at No. 3 with 5860. Many wonder if perhaps she, instead of Pliskova or Halep, will finish the year as the world No. 1. If she does, it might be extremely difficult to pry it out of her hands.

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Wimbledon Finalist Jasmine Paolini – ‘I’m A Little Bit Scared To Dream Too Much’

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After coming close to her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, Jasmine Paolini believes consistency is key to having another shot at glory.

The 28-year-old dropped only one set en route to becoming the first Italian woman to reach a Wimbledon final. However, she was denied the title by Barbora Krejcikova, who won in three sets. Paolini was broken once in the decider which was due to a double fault from the Italian following an unsuccessful hawk-eye challenge made on her first serve. Then she failed to convert two break points when down 4-5 before Krejcikova held to seal glory.

“I started bad,” she reflected afterwards.

“I took some time and try to relax and to come back in the second set stronger to try to push the ball more because I was a little bit controlling too much, and I missed a lot of shots.

“She was playing, honestly, very good the first set. She was serving really, really good. High percentage of first serves.

“It was tough but I think I did better than the last final (at the French Open), but still it’s not enough.”

Prior to Saturday, Paolini had scored wins over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Medison Keys (via retirement) and a marathon victory over Donna Vedic. She has now won 15 Grand Slam matches in 2024 compared to just one last season.

The defeat comes less than two months after the French Open where Paolini contested her first major final but lost in two sets to world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Since the start of this season, she has risen more than 20 places in the rankings and will reach No.5 on Monday.

Despite being in her late 20s, the Italian is producing some of her best tennis on the Tour. Something she credits to a combination of things. 

“I improved my game a little bit. I believe more in myself. I improved my serve. I think I improve the return.” She explained.

“I think physically I’m better than two years ago. I’ve been working with a new fitness coach for one-and-a-half years.

“There are many things, I think. Not just one. I think also winning matches helps a lot.”

Whilst she is heading in the right direction on the Tour, Paolini has vowed not to get too ahead of herself.

“Sometimes I’m a little bit scared to dream too much.” she said.

“I’m going back, trying to practice and stay in the present. This is the goal for me and my team, to try to keep this level as much as possible.

“If I keep this level, I think I can have the chance to do great things.

“Today I was dreaming of holding the (Wimbledon) trophy but it didn’t go well.

“I’m just enjoying the position where I am right now.”

Paolini has won 30 out of 43 matches on the Tour so far this season.

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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