Muguruza beats Puig to reach Pan Pacific quarterfinals

Reuters
Playing her first match since taking over at the top, Spain's Wimbledon champion broke her Puerto Rican opponent twice in the first set and was even more dominant in the second.
Reuters
AFP

Garbine Muguruza of Spain hits a return against Monica Puig of Puerto Rico en route to her 6-4, 6-0 second-round victory at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on September 20, 2017.

New world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza overwhelmed Olympic champion Monica Puig 6-4, 6-0 to ease into the quarterfinals of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Playing her first match since taking over at the top, Spain's Wimbledon champion broke her Puerto Rican opponent twice in the first set and was even more dominant in the second.

Puig dropped serve in the first game of the match but used her impressive court coverage to restore parity in the fourth game before Muguruza seized control of the contest when she broke her opponent again in the next game.

After winning the first set, the 23-year-old Muguruza moved up a gear to race away from her 70th-ranked opponent and sealed victory with her third ace after 75 minutes.

"It's a big change for me," top seed Muguruza said in a courtside interview when reminded she had entered the tournament five years ago as a qualifier.

"I improved so much and I think everybody can see it. I'm very happy about that," added the Spaniard, who will meet either home wildcard Kurumi Nara or Caroline Garcia of France in her fourth successive quarterfinal appearance in the event.

Earlier, second seed Karolina Pliskova appeared to suffer no ill-effects of playing without a coach when the tall Czech swept aside Magda Linette 6-2, 6-1 to also reach the last eight.

The world No. 4, who split with coach David Kotyza last week, capitalized on an early break to win the first set in little more than half an hour.

Pliskova's power proved too much for Linette, who was broken in the second game of the second set, before the Pole's wayward forehand helped her opponent book a place in the next round.

"I felt great today on the court," Pliskova said. "I think my serve was working well... I'm really happy with my win today."

She now faces seventh-seeded German Angelique Kerber, who overcame Russian Daria Kasatkina 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Another Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova labored to a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win over China's Wang Qiang, who inflicted a 'double bagel' on eighth-seeded Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic in the first round.

In Seoul, South Korea, Richel Hogenkamp beat big-hitting Czech Denisa Allertova 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday to reach the Korea Open quarterfinals, as she fights to return to the top 100.

It is the first time the Dutch 25-year-old has reached a quarterfinal on hardcourts and afterwards said she had been focused on keeping her opponent guessing.

"She likes a strike zone at about hip level, so by mixing it up, I was able to get her to make some more mistakes. I think it was a good tactic," said Hogenkamp, who is ranked 119.

She will now face either fellow Dutch player Arantxa Rus or Australia's Priscilla Hon for a spot in the final four.

Elsewhere, Thai Luksika Kumkhum notched a 6-3, 6-3 win over Ekaterina Alexandrova and will next play No 4 seed Sorana Cirstea or surging American Nicole Gibbs.


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