Garbine Muguruza is back in the Wimbledon final, and she returned there in emphatic fashion on Thursday.
The 2015 runner-up ended unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova’s magnificent run, 6-1, 6-1, in just 65 minutes in a completely lopsided semifinal.
The 14th-seeded Spaniard set the tone right from the start, never allowing the 87th-ranked Slovakian into the match. She promptly took the first five games, saving the lone break point she faced. She began the second set in similar dominant fashion, breaking Rybarikova twice to jump out to a commanding 4-0 lead.
Although Rybarikova isn’t Serena Williams—who defeated Muguruza in the final here two years ago—it was a tremendously impressive and encouraging performance from the 2016 French Open champion, who has largely underachieved since winning that maiden Grand Slam title.
If there was ever any doubt about her level being back, though, it’s been squashed in this tournament, and it was again in this match. Muguruza has dropped just one set at the Championships, and ousted two-time Slam champions Angelique Kerber and Svetlana Kuznetsova along the way.
"I think today I step up on court,” Muguruza, now 3-0 for her career in Grand Slam semifinals, said after the win. “[I was] super confident and everything went well."
According to the Associated Press, Muguruza has dropped the fewest number of games (39) of anyone in the tournament.
Despite Rybarikova’s relative anonymity coming into the tournament, she was hardly predicted to be a walk in the park for Muguruza. The darling of the women’s draw upset third-seeded Karolina Pliskova in the second round and power-hitting American CoCo Vandeweghe in the quarterfinals. She came into the match 18-1 on grass this season, including two ITF titles and a semifinal showing in Nottingham.
"I was a little bit nervous, a little bit tired also in my legs," Rybarikova, playing in her first major semifinal, said. "So I just have to be more relaxed, maybe, next time, if I would ever be again in semifinal, or to have such matches. I just have to be more relaxed and [have] more belief in myself."
Rybarikova’s successful grass campaign and Wimbledon are just footnotes now, though, as she takes a seat and Muguruza gets a second opportunity to win the most prestigious tournament in the world.
"I lost two years ago," Muguruza said, "so I really look forward [to] this one to try to change that."
No, Serena won’t be there to play her in the final, but her sister will be. Muguruza will have to beat another Williams to get her trophy, as five-time champion Venus defeated British hopeful Johanna Konta in the second semifinal on Thursday.
The title match will be played on Saturday.
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