Garbie Muguruza overcame an initial resistancefrom Monica Puig to begin her reign as World No.1 with victory at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, beating the Puerto Rican 6-4, 6-0to make the quarterfinals.
The Spaniard, who was confirmed as the 24th player to reach top spot in the world earlier this month, came up againststiff competitionin the opening set, trading breaks of serve before ultimately emerging victorious in 74 minutes.“I’m very happy because it’s my first match as No.1,” Muguruza said. “Last time I played her, it didn’t go my way at all. This time, I found a better way to play…so that’s something that I improved. It’s always good to be in Tokyo, playing the first tournament in Asia.”
Puig had won the only previous meeting of the players with the loss of just two games, at the 2016 Rio Olympics during her magical run to the gold medal, and maintained momentumearly on.
“It was a tight match though — especially the first set and even in the second set, all the points were tough. I kind of learned a little bit what worked in the first set. She made a few more mistakes, I made a few more good shots, and it went my way”, she assessed.
“Nothing has changed — I think on paper it’s different,” said the Spaniard about playing as World No.1 “You can feel like you’re the top seed, but overall, I’m not thinking, ‘Oh, I’m No.1, I should win easily.’ Every match is going to be tougher now.”
Winning in 74 minutes, she will face either home wildcardKurumi Nara or Caroline Garcia next as she takes part in the quarterfinals at this event for the fourth year in succession. Her best showing remains the semifinal she lost to Caroline Wozniacki in 2014.
[Inputs by WTA]