Contesting her third semifinal at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Garbine Muguruza battled past Elise Mertens 6-4 7-6(5) to reach the title match of this tournament for the first time.
Mertens’ week in Dubai will be remembered for match points. After saving three to beat Jessica Pegula in the quarterfinals, the Belgian saved six more before falling to Muguruza in straight sets.
The ninth-seeded Muguruza established a 4-1 lead early on and served for the set at 5-3. Mertens saved one set point and broke Muguruza’s serve to stay alive in the set, but the tenth seed was broken immediately afterwards as the Spaniard finished the job on her second set point.
In the second set, Muguruza took charge by breaking Mertens at love for a 5-3 lead. Mertens then responded by winning three games in a row, saving four match points on the way. Serving at 6-5 to force the third set, Mertens dropped serve and Muguruza got another chance to get the victory that threatened to slip through her hands. After wasting two more match points in the tiebreak, Muguruza finally converted her seventh match point and advanced to her third final this season.
The two-time major champion Muguruza has posted a Tour-leading 17 wins in 2021 (17-4 record overall).
In the second semifinal on Friday, former doubles world No.1 Barbora Krejcikova defeated fellow unseeded player Jil Teichmann 7-5 6-2. The world No.63 Krejcikova is yet to drop a set this week. The Czech’s first WTA 1000 final is a continuation of her impressive singles rise that stared last summer, as the 25-year-old took the COVID-19 break to work on the things that she didn’t have enough time to work on before.