It's doubtful that tennis weeks come any better than the one Garbine Muguruza has experienced in Beijing.
Having celebrated both her birthday and qualification for the 2015 WTA Finals, Muguruza leaves the Chinese capital as the new China Open champion.
The honour, earned when she defeated Timea Bacsinszky 7-5 6-4 in a high quality women's final,came with another significant milestone too.
It's the 22-year-old’s second and biggest career title on the WTA Tour and, as the new champion, Muguruza rises to a career-high world No.4, sitting just one point behind Maria Sharapova at world No.3.
"Definitely it's a big achievement,"beamed the champion soon after lifting the Cup of China. "I think, you know, to see you are improving, also on the tennis side, but in the rankings, it's that moment when there's only three more in front of me. It feels good. It feels that you're doing (things) in the right way."
The fact she had to work so hard for victory only added to Muguruza's achievement. Arriving in Beijing after finishing runner-up in Wuhan, the Spaniard was pushed to three sets in two of her four matches at the China Open.
Having secured come-from-behind victories over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in round three and Agnieszka Radwanska in their semifinal it appeared Muguruza would again need to go the distance when Bacsinszky took a 5-2 lead in the first set of the final.
The two women had earlier exchanged service breaks to open the match but it was Bacsinszky who seemed to settle more quickly, the Swiss capitalising when a flurry of Muguruza errors and a double fault on break point gave her a 4-2 lead, which she quickly stretched to 5-3.
Two games later, the Spaniard again surrendered a break, her error count far exceeding the stunning winners for which she is known. "It was a tough start to the match," Muguruza acknowledged.
"I was really nervous because I came from the final of Wuhan thinking, ‘C'mon, I want to win this one so much’. Sometimes it doesn't help to think like this, but you cannot say no."
The Swiss was counteracting Muguruza’s aggression with some hard-hitting of her own but Bacsinszky had spent four more hours on court than Muguruza in Beijing and the question was whether she could sustain such intensity. As she served for the set at 5-3, pressure became another factor.
With Muguruza’s potent groundstrokes at last finding their range, Bacsinszky dropped that game to love. Seizing momentum, Muguruza claimed five consecutive games to take the set in 54 minutes.
There was another quick exchange of service breaks early in the second set but when Muguruza won a 20-stroke rally to start the fourth game, points were soon flowing her way again.
As Bacsinzky served at 5-4, the Spaniard produced a stunning backhand return to set up a winner that provided a break point. Muguruza claimed victory on her first match point when her aggressive hitting forced an error from Bacsinszky.
A validation of a relatively new coaching relationship with Sam Sumyck, the China Open victory also provides fuel for further successes.
"I'm really happy with how we working together. We'll sit together after these Asia tournaments and we'll talk about what we're going to do," Muguruza said.
"For sure I'm happy the way we're working. I think he's a very professional guy. He knows what it takes to be there. This is very important for me, to have somebody knows what I have to do and what I don't have to do."
And despite surrendering her lead in the Beijing final, Bacsinszky also departs with a new milestone and the impetus for more success, the Swiss thrilled to have entered the world’s top 10 by reaching the final.
"You can always ask for better," she said. "But just be happy with what you have. It's how I feel right now. I'm just super proud of what I did. As I said, I think I've never imagined ever in my whole life to be one day (be) top 10."
Having fought so hard for her victory, Muguruza is similarly taking time to absorb her victory, knowing that such successes are not to be taken for granted.
"(I’m) really happy. A lot of things has been going on in this Asia swing. But that's good," she said, noting how quickly the milestones of the Wuhan final, the Beijing title and qualification for the year-end event have occurred.
"I have to calm down now and really think about it because it's a big achievement. Sometimes you're like rushing everywhere, you're not thinking."
"Now I'm able to rest couple of days and really think about what I've done … it's amazing to be able to live this so fast."（By Vivienne Christie ）