Muguruza plays like a US Open favorite should in rout of Lepchenko

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NEW YORK—Garbine Muguruza’s 17th win since the start of Wimbledon was just the first of her already illustrious career inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. But given the 23-year-old's commanding form and general acceptance as US Open favorite, expect the third-seeded Spaniard to add to both totals this fortnight.

Muguruza began her quest for a third Grand Slam singles title in the same way she wrapped up last month's Wimbledon final, with a 6-0 set. In early July, she overpowered Venus Williams, to the shock of the Centre Court patrons; in late August, she dominated Varvara Lepchenko to the shock of absolutely no one.

If Muguruza isn’t a morning person, she didn’t show it today. (“Being from Spain, this is too early for me,” the Spaniard said of the match's 11 a.m. start time.) The third seed established control of points from the baseline and in the front court, playing aggressively—but with margin—from the onset. And when break chances came her way, Muguruza didn’t let them slip, converting three of four in the first set. Given no lifelines, Lepchenko ceded the opening set in just 21 minutes.

“She started a little bit nervous, and I started very well,” said Muguruza, in the most charitable way you can describe a set of shutout tennis.


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With a disastrous set behind her, Lepchenko settled down and tried to answer some of Muguruza’s offense with some of her own. The southpaw’s forehand has caused problems for players in the past—she’s reached the third round at every major, including a fourth-round showing here in 2015. Lepchenko made progress with it today as well, aiming for and down the lines.

But against an in-form Muguruza, all that meant was that Lepchenko simply kept pace. The inevitable separation began with Lepchenko serving at 2-3. In that game, Muguruza won a point after an exchange of moonballs, then won a point with a forceful volley, then won a point with her signature pace. She showcased the total package that has helped establish herself as the tour’s leading attraction, very much deserving of the US Open's largest venue.

“I sweat, I don’t give any ball [up],” said Muguruza after a 6-0, 6-3 win that was never in doubt despite an exchange of late second-set breaks.

It’s only Day 1, but Muguruza already looks the part of a champion. From her chic visor designed for adidas’ top pros, to her grunt that exudes both effort and confidence, to her shots—the most striking aspect of all—Muguruza has it all right now. It was only her first victory in Arthur Ashe Stadium, but during this year's US Open, it will almost certainly not be her last.


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