MASON, Ohio (AP) – Garbine Muguruza cradled her smiling face in both hands and closed her eyes, taking it all in. The Wimbledon champion had added another title to her breakthrough summer – this one at the expense of a player who can’t quite get to No. 1.
Muguruza defeated Simona Halep 6-1, 6-0 for her first Western & Southern Open title on Sunday, needing only 56 minutes to extend her run of success. She also denied Halep yet another chance to move up to No. 1 in the WTA rankings.
“Honestly, I was thinking in her situation, it must be difficult,” Muguruza said. “But I wanted to win the title as well.”
On the men’s side, seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov beat Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5 for his first ATP Masters title, emerging from a bracket decimated by injuries to top players.
Muguruza won her first title in the U.S. and her second of the year, along with Wimbledon. In three tournaments since, the Spaniard has at least reached the quarterfinals. Now it’s on to New York for the U.S. Open, where she’s got a history of disappointment.
“The tough matches never go my way, so I want to change that,” she said. “I want to find the recipe this year.”
It was a big disappointment for Halep – the third time this season that she needed one more win to move up to No. 1 and couldn’t get it. She came up just short at the French Open and Wimbledon, and had it in the back of her mind the last few weeks.
Perhaps that had something to do with the poor showing.
“Maybe I feel the pressure and I don’t realize it,” Halep said. “Maybe I just played bad. I don’t know what to say. But it’s still there. I still have a chance, so I will work for it and maybe one day it will be there.”
Halep also finished as the runner-up at Cincinnati in 2015, losing to Serena Williams. She brought a lot of momentum into this final title match. The Romanian is fully healed from a knee injury that limited her early in the season, and she didn’t lose a set all week until Sunday, when she was never in the match.
Muguruza broke her to go up 2-0 in the first set and was in control. Halep won only 12 points in the set, which lasted 23 minutes. Muguruza broke her again to open the second set and faced only two break points all match.
“When I feel on court that I got dominated a little bit – I felt that I cannot control the points – and that’s maybe why I got a little big down in my confidence,” Halep said.
When it ended, Muguruza congratulated Halep and walked around the court with her smiling face cradled in both hands. Then she put her hands over her heart and reached toward the applauding crowd.
The women’s bracket was missing Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. Muguruza knocked off defending champion Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.
The men’s bracket lacked Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and defending champion Marin Cilic because of injuries. Dimitrov took advantage and won a title with his steady serve – he was broken only once all week.
Kyrgios had only two break chances and failed to convert either during the 1-hour, 25-minute final. Neither player had reached a Masters title match until this week. Dimitrov said his shoulder felt heavy as he sensed the moment and served out the match.
“In moments like that, it’s so difficult,” Dimitrov said. “There’s so many things going through your head. Today there was a lot more on the line for me so yeah, the weight was a bit more.”
Kyrgios was delighted to reach a final after a hip injury prompted him to quit several matches this summer, including at Wimbledon.
“Where I was three weeks ago – it wasn’t good at all – and now I’m in a Masters final,” Kyrgios said. “That’s a very Nick Kyrgios thing to do. I don’t know. It’s crazy.”