US Open 2017

No1 wait is over: Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza rises to top after Pliskova loses at US Open

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza is set to take the number one ranking

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Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza Photo: China Open

When she arrived in New York as the No3 seed, and on the back of the Wimbledon and Cincinnati titles, Garbine Muguruza was one of seven women who could grab the No1 ranking from the incumbent Karolina Pliskova.

Before the start of the US Open, world No2 Simona Halep had been challenging for the No1 ranking against a slew of women since the start of the clay swing, and finally the US Open looked like her chance to succeed. But her first-round loss to Maria Sharapova as good as closed the door on her chances, and Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta, and Svetlana Kuznetsova excluded themselves by also losing too soon.

Muguruza’s seamless progress to the fourth round ensured Venus Williams was also put out of the picture, and it was down to Pliskova and Elina Svitolina to stack up the results.

Svitolina’s loss in the fourth round to Madison Keys ended her chances—for the time being—and then Pliskova’s fate was in her own hands. She needed to reach the final of the US Open, just as she did last year, but American No20 seed Coco Vandeweghe brought a halt to the contest: She beat a below-par Pliskova, 7-6(4), 6-3, to become the third American to reach the semis here.

Not that the ranking of her opponent would have featured large on Vandeweghe’s radar. After an exchange of breaks in the early games, the American saved a set point in the 10th game and took advantage of a too many errors form Pliskova, especially off the forehand wing, to power through the tie-break.

Pliskova regrouped at the start of the second with a love hold, but more forehand errors handed the break to Vandeweghe, 1-3. Pliskova pressed through a long fifth game to break back, but Vandeweghe’s aggressive game took control again, 5-2. The American had to work hard for the set, passing up one match point and saving break point before finally drawing one final error from the Czech’s forehand.

Vandeweghe will play the winner of Wednesday night’s semi-final between qualifier Kaia Kanepi and No15 seed Madison Keys, another American hoping to make it a clean sweep in the women’s semis for the first time since 1981.

But away the tournament, Muguruza was perhaps lifting a glass in celebration. Just as Pliskova had done after her second-round loss at Wimbledon, the Spaniard was assured of No1 come what may.

Muguruza’s rise to the top at the age of 23 has come in bursts of brilliance. It did not take long for the tall, elegant Spaniard to make her mark in 2014 with her first title, in Hobart, then the fourth round in her second appearance at the Australian Open and the quarters at Roland Garros months later, all before her 20th birthday.

The next year, she made the quarters at the French Open again, then the final at Wimbledon, and won in Beijing, and last year, she won her first Major in Paris, aged 22.

This year has been the best yet, beginning with the quarters in Australia and the title at Wimbledon, and taking in the big Cincinnati title just ahead of New York, where she reached the second week of the US Open for the first time.

As a result, she is one of only two players to have reached the second week of all four Slams in 2017, along with Venus Williams, and she has beaten eight top-10 players through the season, including two No1s: Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon and Pliskova in Cincinnati.

Muguruza is the second player from Spain to reach No1 since computer rankings were introduced in 1975, the other being Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario.

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