Muguruza becomes even bigger favorite for US Open crown

John Isner of the US returns a shot to compatriot Tommy Paul during their Cincinnati Open second round match in Mason Ohio

Kyrgios to face Dimitrov in Cincinnati final after battling past David Ferrer

That upped the ante for Muguruza, too.

"I was very precise with my shots, " Muguruza said. "So finally, this year, you know, I improved that".

Defending champion Karolina Pliskova pulled off a doubleheader sweep Friday at the Western & Southern Open, reaching the semifinals by winning a pair of matches with little rest in-between.

Muguruza, the 2016 French Open victor, will be in the world number one hunt at the US Open, which starts on August 28.

From there the Czech would not see another break point and Muguruza broke midway through the set. "I still have a chance, so I will work for it, and maybe one day, it will be there".

However, Halep coasted through the second semi-final with a 6-2 6-1 win over American Sloane Stephens in just 56 minutes. After going a full year without a final following her first major at the 2016 French Open, the Spaniard's desire to be more consistent week-to-week (as well as in matches themselves) has translated to a three-week run of Stanford semifinals, Toronto quarterfinals and now the Cincinnati title. "I played well enough to beat a lot of players today - just not him".

"The match felt quite tough, it was not easy at all", Halep said.

"In the big picture, it means a lot to me", Dimitrov said. I'm just going to go out there and be calm and play as freely as I can.

Dominic Thiem of Austria takes questions from the media during the Cincinnati Open tournament at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason Ohio

"I'm used to putting so many things aside to be able to compete".

While neither was playing for the No. 1 spot like Halep in the first match, there was plenty at stake in the ATP final. As her head began to drop, especially after failing to break at 0-3 down in a long game with her only break point opportunities of the match, it really became a foregone conclusion. It was a complete display of tennis from her side with all the parts working together in a smooth manner.

The second set was almost a mirror image of the first.

"I'm just sad for the people that were there".

Although Muguruza has a 2-1 career edge against Halep, they haven't played in two years.

But Muguruza never gave an inch from the first ball to the last of a blistering performance, 6-1, 6-0, completed in under an hour. "I'm like, 'Oh, I wish I was in her situation.' It must be hard, but I wanted the title, as well", the Spaniard confessed.

"When I was a little girl I was dreaming to be there. Solid opponent", Muguruza said.

Romanian Halep, meanwhile, could take over from Pliskova at the top of the WTA rankings if she is able to win the tournament.

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