Garbine Muguruza proved why she is seen by many as the favorite for the US Open title on Monday, easing past Varvara Lepchenko in the opening round at Flushing Meadows.
The Spaniard, fresh off an impressive run to the title at the Western and Southern Open, bageled a struggling Lepchenko in the opening set and though she faced a tougher time of it in the second set, proved too strong in the opening match on Arthur Ashe Stadium, prevailing 6-0, 6-3 in just one hour and three minutes.
This was undoubtedly an authoritative performance by Muguruza, who won her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon this year. The Spaniard made just 11 errors, compared to a poor 22 by Lepchenko, and also hit an impressive 16 winners. The third seed in New York will face Claire Liu or Duan Yingying in the second round.
Muguruza dominates in strong opening round performance
There is no doubt that Muguruza has struggled heavily under pressure in the past, but the Spaniard seemed unburdened by her status as the favorite for the title as she cruised past Lepchenko in a commanding performance.
The Spaniard, who has never made it past the second round in New York, started extremely well, quickly racing to a 3-0 lead as Lepchenko repeatedly cracked under the supreme pressure she was facing. The American managed to fend off one double break point, though the gap in the rankings between the two showed as Muguruza broke for the second time in the match and eventually led 5-0 inside 20 minutes.
Lepchenko was clearly desperate to show some form of resistance against the two-time Grand Slam champion, though continued to go for too much with her shot making, and a fourth unforced error handed Muguruza in the opening set in just 21 minutes. Muguruza comfortably held at the very beginning of the second set, though her run of games would end at seven as the American held at last, much to the joy of her home crowd.
That hold seemed to buoy the American, who finally started to look slightly comfortable on court. The two began to engage in some competitive rallies and it seemed Lepchenko may be able to hold on slightly, though Muguruza remained incredibly firm and broke for a 4-2 lead. For the first time, Muguruza wobbled slightly and lost serve for the first time, though quickly broke to love and safely served out an impressive victory.