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Garbiñe Muguruza Wins 8th Career Title in Dubai

Garbine Muguruza saved a set point in the first set tie breaker scoring a 7-6(6), 6-3 win over Barbora Krejcikova in the Dubai final for her first title in two years. EPA-EFE/DEAN LEWINS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Contesting her third final of the seasonGarbiñe Muguruza was in no mood for moral victories.

A driven Muguruza saved a set point in the first set tie breaker and broke twice in the second set scoring a 7-6(6), 6-3 win over Barbora Krejcikova to win her first title in two years at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

A week after dealing with the disappointment of 6-2, 6-1 loss to Petra Kvitova in the Doha final, Muguruza displayed resilience and raw desire to get over the line continuing a fantastic start to the season. Muguruza has played five tournaments and contested three finals this season. 

“I lost finals before so I really wanted this title. I mean it paid off this week,” Muguruza said afterward. “The other weeks I was close, but today I fought harder. I don’t know, I’m very happy about it—very happy. I feel like the consistency is so hard to get being able to play three finals is a great sign we are on the right way.”

The two-time Grand Slam champion improved her 2020 record to a WTA-best 18-4 capturing her eighth career title.

It’s Muguruza’s first title since she successfully defended Monterrey in 2019.

Tennis players cope with loss on a weekly basis, but Muguruza, who is projected to rise to No. 13 when the new rankings are released Monday, trusted her game at crunch time today. Muguruza drilled saved aces against one double fault, denied seven of nine break points and saved set point with a bold forehand winner.

The former Wimbledon winner’s eighth title came under unusual circumstances as coach Conchita Martinez tested positive for Coronavirus upon arrival in Doha and has been monitoring Muguruza’s matches from a skype connection over her iPhone.

“It was very challenging,” Muguruza said. “I feel more than people think with so many things that happened in this Middle East swing but we stood strong. I’m very proud of my whole team all week. Very tough [week],  I feel like if you want to get the trophy you gotta beat everybody on the way. Today was a very tough match—but all of them were tough.”

The ninth-seeded Spaniard seized triple set point in the 12th game. Krejcikova saved the first two set points then hit a backhand behind Muguruza, who slipped and crashed to the court. The world No. 63 showed sheer tenacity rapping a backhand pass down the line holding from love-40 down to force the first-set tie breaker.

A nervy tie breaker saw Muguruza, a few feet from net, frame a backhand that looped high and landed in but Krejcikova missed an open-court pass giving the Spaniard a 3-2 lead. Krejcikova came right back forcing three errors to go up 5-3 on a netted forehand. Muguruza got the mini break back on an error leveling at 5-all, but sprayed a shot long handing the Czech set point.

Staring down set point 10 minutes after she squandered a triple set point chance, a gutsy Muguruza erased it with the wide serve and inside-out forehand winner.

Sliding her fourth ace off the sideline gave Muguruza a fourth set point. When Krejcikova narrowly missed the mark on a diagonal forehand, Muguruza snatched a one-set lead after 65 minutes. Krejcikova, who won one more point in the first set, left the court for a refreshment break.

Serve games began to get stickier for the 6′ Spaniard, who used every inch of her reach to poke a backhand down the line erasing break point in the sixth game. Facing another break point, Muguruza smacked her fifth ace out wide to save it, navigating a complicated hold for 4-2.

Seeing the finish line, Muguruza raced toward it slicing an ace for 5-3. Muguruza banged out the final break with a series of crackling backhands closing in two hours, eight minutes.

“I want to dedicate this to Audrey my physio she worked so hard these two weeks and also to Conchi that she got the virus she was so upset she couldn’t come,” Muguruza said. “This one is for her. I feel  like improving physically helped me to resist round after round I feel like that’s the key for these matches to be able to come back physically and still give them a good level.”