DUBAI: Garbine Muguruza advanced to the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships taking the first set in her semi-final with Elise Mertens 6-4, before closing the deal in a hard-fought second set tie-breaker 7-6 (7-5).
Muguruza, the former world No.1, went 6-3 up in the breaker and finally closed out the win on her seventh match point with some brave play at the net.
“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 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.
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.
Muguruza reached her third Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-final on Thursday with a 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory over third seed Aryna Sabalenka. It was Muguruza’s second win over Sabalenka in two weeks, as the former World No. 1 beat the Belarusian en route to the Qatar Total Open final last week.
Krejcikova took just 62 minutes to overwhelm tournament wild card Anastasia Potapova 6-0 6-2, while Teichmann defeated another wild card, Coco Gauff, in straight sets 6-3 6-3.
Gauff was hoping to celebrate her 17th birthday by competing in Saturday’s final.