It was the battle of an irresistible force against an immovable object. Two-time Grand Slam Champion Garbine Muguruza battled her way to victory against a relentless Elise Mertens, sealing her spot in the 2021 Dubai Tennis Women’s Final. In an impressive match that lasted over 2 hours, the Spaniard was in red-hot form as she beat Mertens 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).
Coming into the tournament, Muguruza earned more wins than any other player on the ATP tour. Despite her early exit at the Doha Open, where she lost to Petra Kvitova, Muguruza looked ever so confident as Irina-Camelia Begu, Amanda Anisimova, Iga Swiatek, and Aryna Sabalenka all fell to her strong backhand game.
An emotional Muguruza expressed relief after converting her match point against a rock-solid Mertens.
Discussing the physical battle against Mertens, Muguruza said: “Despite the continuous matches, I believe my body is strong and this is achievable through the hard work of my team as well. Although age plays a factor, I believe I have found the balance, and this is my confidence when I walk on the court.”
The Belgian star Elise Mertens had a magical run in Dubai, defeating the likes of Viktoriya Tomova 4-6 6-2 6-4, Shelby Rogers 6-3 6-3, Caroline Garcia 6-4 6-2, and Jessica Pegula 5-7 7-5 6- 0. The Belgian is not a desirable opponent on a bad day, but given her lack of firepower, it looked bearable for the former Wimbledon Champion.
A nervy start from both saw Mertens and Muguruza trade breaks early. At the 52-minute mark, Muguruza blasted a backhand down the line to secure the first set 6-4. Mertens was not to go down without a fight. The second set saw her use a variety of incredible shots to avoid three break points and hold for 1-1, and the set was tightly contested and taken to a tiebreaker.
The former world No.1 went up 6-3 in the breaker and finally closed out the win on her seventh match point with some brave play at the net.
The Spaniard was all praise of Merten’s defense, suggesting it took immense composure to overcome her shots.
“It took me quite a few match points to close the match. She is a very talented player, always gives you an extra ball back. I’m just happy I could close it in two sets,” said the 27-year-old Muguruza.
The Spaniard will look to claim her first title since Monterrey in 2019 and will be bidding for a maiden Dubai Tennis crown, since reaching the finals previously in 2015 and 2018 editions.
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