‘Proud’ Muguruza in third final of 2021
Garbine Muguruza says she is very proud of her consistency after reaching a third final from five tournaments contested so far this season.
The former world number one needed seven match points to overcome a stubborn Elise Mertens 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) in the Dubai semifinals on Friday, and is now into her second final in as many weeks, having placed runner-up in Doha six days ago.
The ninth-seeded Spaniard, who is searching for a first title since Monterrey in 2019, owns a tour-leading 17 match-wins in 2021 and will be bidding for a maiden Dubai crown when she faces Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova in the final on Saturday.
“I’m very proud. It’s one of the hardest things to find some sort of balance, some sort of feeling more stable on the court, level-wise as well, and bringing every day a good level of tennis and being there every round,” said the two-time Grand Slam champion.
“I feel like that’s something very hard to achieve and it takes some time, it’s a journey for everybody.
“I feel like for some people they got it early in their career, some others a little bit later. But I feel like it’s a combination of experience and knowing yourself a little bit more.”
Muguruza has do compete without having her coach Conchita Martinez in her corner in Doha and Dubai after the former Wimbledon champion contracted Covid-19 and was forced to isolate.
The 27-year-old Muguruza was broken while serving for the opening set against Mertens – who had saved three match points against Jessica Pegula in the previous round – but struck back immediately to take the lead in 52 minutes.
Muguruza served for the match at 5-3 in the second but Mertens saved four match points as the duel fittingly went to a tiebreak, where the Spaniard carved a 6-3 opening and finally closed out the win on her seventh opportunity with some brave play at the net.
Elaborating on her long journey towards finding consistency on tour, the former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion said: “I feel it was more mental to put that together, to put the level and the mentality in the right moment.
“I feel like those two sometimes don’t go together. You can have a lot of talent but you don’t know what to do with it, and there are days where it’s the opposite. But I feel like now I know how to put a little bit of both more than before.”
Meanwhile, Krejcikova became the lowest-ranked women’s finalist in the Dubai tournament’s history after she defeated Swiss left-hander Jil Teichmann 7-5, 6-2.
The world number 63, making her singles debut in the emirate this week, has yet to drop a set en route to the biggest final of her career.
The former doubles world number one has never faced Muguruza before.
“I actually cannot wait. I’m just looking forward so much to play her. She’s such a good player, she’s already a legend, all the respect to her,” an emotional Krejcikova said on court after her win.
Get the hottest sports news straight into your inbox
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.