Garbine Muguruza was at her commanding best as she dropped just three games in a one-sided win over Maria Sharapova at Roland Garros.
It was the 2016 champion who made Court Philippe-Chatier her own as she saw off the 2012 and 2014 winner 6-2 6-1 in just 70 minutes.
“Being aggressive is part of my game and when you’re facing somebody who also has an aggressive style of game, I think it’s about who takes the command, who takes the first opportunity,” said the Spaniard.
“I was focusing on winning every point, every game.”
The third seed will face Simona Halep in the semifinals after the top seed also impressed in a 6-7(2) 6-3 6-2 win over Germany’s Angelique Kerber.
And Muguruza is showing every sign that she has discovered the rich vein of form that has already brought her Grand Slam titles in Paris two years ago, and at Wimbledon last year.
“After losing that set, when I came back it was a little bit tough, but I stayed there. I stayed focused. I never gave up. So I think that's why I won today. My head won it.”
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 6, 2018
She bullied Sharapova from the outset, taking advantage of three double faults from the Russian to break in game one and stretching out to a 4-0 lead.
It took 29 minutes for Sharapova to get on the scoreboard and by then the damage was done.
Muguruza dismantled the five-time major champion’s second serve, winning all but five points on that shot, and recovered from her only lapse at the start of the second set by taking the last five games in a row.
It brought her a first win in four attempts against Sharapova, although their most recent encounter was three years ago – and as Muguruza demonstrated, “a lot of things have happened in between that.”
The 24-year-old, who could regain the world No.1 ranking after the tournament, has only won six titles in her career, yet two of them have come at Grand Slams.
In an ominous sign for her rivals, that level of intensity appears to be with Muguruza once again in Paris.
“When I go out there. I love playing tennis. It’s one of my favourite courts. The crowd, the big stage,” she said. “Deep inside it’s a great moment, even though I’m not smiling out there.”
Halep will head into their semifinal with plenty of reason to be optimistic after fighting back to beat Kerber on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
“After the first set I just stayed strong, I didn’t give up at all,” she said.
“I missed a lot at the beginning of the match. She’s always putting the ball back and she doesn’t miss, so I tried to do too much and it didn’t work.
“Then I changed my tactics a little bit, and it worked very well in the end.”
The Romanian is still searching for her first major title after two final defeats in Paris and one in Melbourne earlier this year, the latter coming after an epic semifinal win over over Kerber.
Halep was not stretched to quite the same extent on Wednesday, despite making a slow, error-strewn start.
Kerber forged a 4-0 lead and twice served for the opening set, and although she eventually came through in a tiebreak, the tide had begun to turn.
Halep broke early in the second set and twice more at the start of the decider as Kerber’s game began to unravel amid a flurry of errors.
The Romanian sealed victory after two hours and 14 minutes, and will need to recover quickly with her semifinal against Muguruza scheduled for 24 hours later.
“Of course, it’s a different match,” added Halep, who trails Muguruza 3-1 in career meetings but won their only match on clay.
“I have to expect some hard points, power. It doesn’t matter who she is playing against, she does her game.
“So I have just to stay strong, to try to make her uncomfortable on court, and to try to play my game.”
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