Garbine Muguruza confidently slayed world No. 1 and defending French Open champion Serena Williams during a terrific Round 2 encounter for the 20-year-old on Wednesday.
The underdog scored a 6-2, 6-2 win to confirm one of the biggest upsets of the tournament.
Muguruza came out of the blocks flying in the first set. She dominated Williams from the off and dictated the pace with supreme confidence. The Spaniard placed her serves with great variation, powered her shots deep and maintained composure to take advantage of both her break points, putting her one set up.
Williams' reactions seemed sluggish, her usual power failing to outfox Muguruza's efforts across the baseline. Neil Harman of The Times provided a tip for the player who appeared halfhearted for much of the match:
The No. 1 seed missed a simple volley from the centre of the court shortly after her opponent secured another break, but after fighting back to deuce at the next crucial moment, she overshot a simple forehand.
Muguruza took advantage and put herself 3-0 up in the second set.
Williams began to move her feet during Muguruza's next service game and managed to pinch one back.
However, the American suddenly lost the ability to serve accurately and failed to find her trademark first serve that usually wins her so many points. She threw her hands up in despair, shook her head and began to acknowledge it might not be her day.
With a quick bluster of wind across court and another wayward shot, Muguruza took another break to make it 4-1 in the second. Harman summed up Williams' frustrations:
Muguruza brilliantly battled back from 0-40 down in the next game and watched on as Williams hammered a low shot into the net to put the Venezuelan-born youngster one game away from victory. Williams then nonchalantly placed an ace just over the net to make it 5-2, giving herself a small opportunity to battle back.
Unfortunately for the champ, Muguruza wasn't to be moved. The emerging talent served confidently in the vital game and confirmed victory when her opponent curled a simple return into the net. A landmark win for Muguruza, there's no doubt about it.
Muguruza's moment of glory was captured by Roland Garros' Twitter feed:
Williams made 29 unforced errors compared to Murguruza's 18, and only won 27 percent of her second-serve points compared to Murguruza's 68 percent.
Barry Flatman of the Sunday Times reported quotes from Williams shortly after the match concluded:
Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times also posted comments from the fallen champion:
Williams later commented on the defeat via her Twitter account:
Serena's loss rounded off a supremely disappointing day for the Williams sisters, who many tipped to battle each other in Round 3. Venus lost 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Anna Schmiedlova just an hour before Serena's defeat to end the family's interest in this year's French Grand Slam.
Muguruza has now blown the tournament wide open. With Li Na, the No. 2 seed, eliminated during her opening match against Kristina Mladenovic, this year's clay championship could be won by an unlikely source.
One thing's for sure: If Muguruza plays with the confidence and variation she displayed against Williams throughout the rest of the competition, she should be outlined as a dark horse for the crown.
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