Garbine Muguruza speaks to Gulf News ahead of the 2022 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
Garbine Muguruza speaks to Gulf News ahead of the 2022 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Garbine Muguruza, the defending WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis champion, is relishing the task ahead of her as she seeks to retain the Coffee Pot trophy in Garhoud this week.

The Spaniard is rubbing her hands at the fact she is a hunted woman as everyone in the draw will be looking to topple her from her throne.

“I know I have a target on my back, but surely it is better to have a target than not have one, right?” she told Gulf News on the sidelines of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium. “Every week we work hard to get where we are and sometimes that means you are the one to beat. My game is in a good place and to win back-to-back would be amazing. Having a target on me is no problem as it is better than being a nobody.”

The world No. 6 and fourth seed in Dubai will face recent Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins in the first round, but Muguruza will not be changing her preparation plans.

“Danielle is a great player and on a great run,” she said. “But I will treat it as any other match and go about my daily routine before we get on court. Every week we face different challenges and I can only face who is in front of me. It will be a good match.”

The Spaniard is making up for lost time by getting out to see the sights in Dubai.

“I have been here a few times but I never found the right time to get out and do the things I wanted,” Muguruza said. “There is so much on offer here from city to beach and thankfully this week I got to do a few things. It is such an amazing place. The tour was kind enough to set up a few things and we got a bit of a ‘junior’ trip dune bashing, which was still a bit scary. It is important to do fun things as every week is hard on tour and you need to let off steam and relax.”

Aryna Sabalenka does her media duties in Dubai
Aryna Sabalenka does her media duties in Dubai Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Aryna Sabalenka, the world No. 2 is out to make amends after a disappointing Australian Open and admits she has had to go back to basics.

The Belarusian crashed out in the fourth round in Melbourne was quite frank in her own assessment on Sunday as she admitted she has had to reset ahead of the DDFTC.

“It was tough to take,” she said. “My game is not in a good place but we are in a new tournament and a new environment and we are ready to go again. I am not sure what is wrong with my game. We have had to reset and I am sure we will sort it out on the court.”

World No. 5 Paula Badosa is also looking forward to getting going in Dubai. The Spanish star is making her bow in the UAE but already feels right at home.

“I really like Dubai. I have an apartment here as well,” she said. “I came a week ago already and spent some time with my family. We have had a few days out and we are enjoying things. I like Dubai. It’s like my second home. It’s a very nice place to be. It’s an amazing city, has a lot of good energy. The weather is great and the people are very friendly.”

The two-week DDFTC begins with the WTA event from Monday before the 30th anniversary of the ATP Tour 500 tournament when world No. 1 Novak Djokovic will be bidding for his sixth Dubai title.