WUHAN (China) • Venus Williams and Garbine Muguruza made big moves in their bid to play in the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore yesterday, after Williams beat the Spaniard 6-3, 3-0 (retired) in the Wuhan Open final.
Only the top eight women tennis players in the world get to play in the singles at the WTA Finals, and both Williams and Muguruza are projected to rise into the top eight on the Road To Singapore leader board - Muguruza from No. 11 and Williams all the way from No. 23 .
So far only Williams' sister, world No. 1 Serena, world No. 2 Simona Halep and No. 3 Maria Sharapova have qualified for the tournament. Twenty-seven players still have a mathematical chance of booking a berth.
According to the Women's Tennis Association, Williams will move from No. 24 to No. 14 and Muguruza from No. 8 to No. 5, her debut in the top five, when the world rankings are announced tomorrow.
Williams captured her 47th WTA career title and her biggest in five years yesterday. Her last title at the Premier Five level or higher came at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February 2010.
The 35-year-old American was leading Muguruza 6-3, 3-0 when the Spaniard, the Wimbledon runner-up who was struggling with a left-ankle injury, retired, handing the title to Williams, who was already well on top.
A sympathetic Williams, who had chalked up her 700th career match win on Tuesday, consoled Muguruza, one of the best young players in the game who had a tough semi-final with Germany's Angelique Kerber, during the victory ceremony.
"Congratulations Garbine for making the final," Williams said.
"I know you had a tough match yesterday - it's not easy when you don't play your best, and I probably didn't have a chance if you felt well."
Muguruza traded blows with Williams through most of the first set but suddenly dropped her level of play after the seventh game.
The 21-year-old lost the next five games on the trot before signalling she could not continue.
"This is a sad day," said Muguruza. "I'm very sorry I had to retire, but I had a really amazing week in Wuhan. I really want to congratulate Venus. She's always such a tough player and she had an amazing week as well.
"For sure we'll play again soon, and it's going to be a tough match, of course."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE