DUBAI: Garbine Muguruza ended the gallant run of Barbora Krejcikova in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday night, beating her 7-6(6) 6-3 to claim the eighth title of her career.
The past three finals have also featured one unseeded player, with Daria Kasatkina in 2018 and Elena Rybakina in 2020 also finishing as runner-up, and with Belinda Bencic winning the title in 2019.
“It was a tricky match,” said Muguruza. “I didn’t have a feel for her. We never practiced together, we never played before. I had to work so hard in the first set. The difference was one point and I'm happy it went my way. I think she played great. She’s a very talented player, good hands, good baseline game and I'm happy I was stronger today.”
Meanwhile, the doubles title was claimed by Alexa Guarachi and Darija Jurak, who overwhelmed Yifan Xu and Zhaoxuan Yang 6-0 6-3 in just 53 minutes.
Jurak is a previous champion at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, claiming the title in 2016, while Yang was attempting to repeat her 2018 Dubai success.
Ninth-seeded Muguruza, who was contesting her first Dubai final and is the first Spanish woman to claim the trophy, now has 18 wins this season, more than any other player on the WTA Tour, after finishing as runner-up at the Yarra Valley Classic in February and last week in Doha.
“We congratulate Garbine Muguruza on her victory in what is her seventh successive appearance here in the main draw,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.
“She has kept us entertained throughout the week with her magnificent performances and her success is richly deserved.”
“Barbora Krejcikova has now competed in two finals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after finishing as runner-up in the doubles in 2020, and she clearly has the ability to go one step further and claim a title here in the years ahead. We look forward to welcoming both Garbine Muguruza and Barbora Krejcikova back to Dubai in 2022.”
“As well as congratulating our two singles players on such a successful week, we acknowledge the fine doubles victory of Alexa Guarachi and Darija Jurak over Yifan Xu and Zhaoxuan Yang."
Ranked 63, Krejcikova is the lowest-ranked player to reach the final. But she stretched her more experienced opponent all the way and Muguruza had to fight extremely hard to claim the match in straight sets.
Krejcikova showed straight away that she would not be intimidated by the occasion, breaking serve in the very first game.
Muguruza though responded in kind, levelling at 1-1 and then breaking to lead 4-2, but then Krejcikova broke again to level at 4-4.
The outcome of the set remained too close to call as Muguruza held three set points on her opponent’s serve at 6-5, and although Krejcikova fought off that threat to take the set to a tiebreak Muguruza finally clinched the set on her fourth set point.
The second set was just as thrilling and unpredictable, as Muguruza broke to lead 1-0 after Krejcikova had led 40-0 but then had to fight off three break points at 1-0 and two more to hold for 4-2.
At the end of the set it was Muguruza who proved to be the stronger as she broke serve again at 5-3 and closed out the match on her second match point.
“For sure I’m disappointed,” said Krejcikova. “It was pretty close. I was playing really well. I was playing such a close match with such a champion. I’m disappointed, but tomorrow I’m going to wake up and feel I did so well and I’ve learned so much and gained so much experience from this whole week and it motivates me to go and work harder.”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships continues until March 20, with the ATP500 event headed by reigning US Open champion and world number four Dominic Thiem, who will be in competition for the title against 2021 Rotterdam champion and world number eight Andrey Rublev, 2020 US Open quarter-finalist Denis Shapovalov, 2018 Dubai champion Roberto Bautista Agut, 2021 Montpellier winner David Goffin and 2020 US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta.