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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Garbine Muguruza wins Cincinnati Open to deny Simona Halep world No 1 slot: 'Maybe I feel the pressure and I don't realise it'

Muguruza defeated Simona Halep 6-1, 6-0 for her first Cincinnati Open title on Sunday, needing only 56 minutes to extend her run of success

Spain's Garbine Muguruza, right, holds the Rookwood Cup after defeating Romania's Simona Halep, left, during the women's singles final at the Cincinnati Open, Sunday, August 20, 2017, in Mason, Ohio. Muguruza won 6-1, 6-0. John Minchillo / AP Photo
Spain's Garbine Muguruza, right, holds the Rookwood Cup after defeating Romania's Simona Halep, left, during the women's singles final at the Cincinnati Open, Sunday, August 20, 2017, in Mason, Ohio. Muguruza won 6-1, 6-0. John Minchillo / AP Photo

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 Cincinnati 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."

Muguruza won her first title in the United States and her second of the year, along with Wimbledon. In three tournaments since, the Spaniard has at least reached the quarter-finals. Now it is on to New York for the US Open, where she has 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 world 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 realise 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 did not 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.

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"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 semi-finals.

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