Tennis - Krejcikova
Unseeded Barbora Krejcikova, who beat Jil Teichmann 7-5, 6-2 in the semi-final to set up a title-clash with fancied Garbine Murguruza on Saturday. Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: Garbine Muguruza battled for over two hours to overcome a defiant Elise Mertens 6-4, 7-6(5) on Friday to reach the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where the number nine seed will face unseeded Barbora Krejcikova, who beat Jil Teichmann 7-5 6-2.

Muguruza, who was contesting her third Dubai semi-final, now has 17 wins this season, more than any other player on the WTA Tour. She will be playing her third final of the year after finishing as runner-up at the Yarra Valley Classic and last week in Doha, and will be seeking her first title since Monterrey in 2019.


Neither Muguruza nor Mertens was to take control of the match at any stage, and the outcome remained in the balance until the final ball has been hit. Both players placed the other under pressure right from the start, exchanging breaks in the opening two games before the Spaniard saved two more break points to hold for 2-1 and then broke to lead 3-1. Muguruza, two-time slam winner, went on to hold set point at 5-3 and although Mertens broke her serve, Muguruza was able to break again at 5-4 to claim the first set.

Each player had break point opportunities as the second set got underway, before Muguruza gained the first break of the set to lead 5-3 and then held a match point. Mertens, though, refused to buckle and, having fought back in her quarter-final from a set and 5-2 down, she once again showed remarkable resilience to stay in the battle.

She broke for 4-5, held off three more match points to level at 5-5 and then broke Muguruza to lead 6-5. But just as it seemed as if a third set was going to be needed to separate the two, Muguruza broke to take the set into a tiebreak, where she finally closed out the match on her seventh match point.

“I think it was a very tough match,” said Muguruza.”It was two sets but a tough two sets, long points, a lot of rallies. It was a very physical match. I don’t think I played bad the match points. I didn’t lose the concentration or get too irritated.

“She was bringing her best shots at the right time and I was happy and relieved in the end that I could close it out in two sets. I could feel that if she got the second set she was going to be more pumped for the third set. She was tough, she was hanging in there.”

Mertens considered she had played a good match but that she didn’t have enough to overcome an excellent opponent. “I tried to stay in the match,” said Belgian Mertens.

Although she failed to qualify in Doha last week, Krejcikova has rebounded in spectacular fashion and not dropped a set throughout the week in Dubai, and at 63 she is the lowest ranked woman ever to reach the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Teichmann offered a strong challenge, holding two set points at 5-4, but Krejcikova not only fought off the threat but broke to lead 6-5 and went on to claim the opening set. The second set too was keenly contested with Krejcikova saving two break-points when serving at 5-2 before winning on her third match point. She is thrilled at now facing the former world number one and double Grand Slam winner.

“There are so many emotions going through my mind right now,” Krejcikova said after her victory. “I’m looking forward so much to play her. She’s a legend and done so much. It’s going to be an amazing experience for me.”