Dubai: Wimbledon champion and former world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza will be hungry for success when she begins her bid for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships trophy next week.
The Spaniard enjoyed a fantastic 2017, winning at the All England Club to add a second Grand Slam crown to the one she earned in Paris a year earlier. By beating Serena Williams to win the 2016 French Open and then Venus to win Wimbledon, she became the first player to defeat both Williams sisters in Grand Slam singles finals. Last season she also won the Cincinnati title with victory over world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the semis and No. 2 Simona Halep in the final, and after the US Open she claimed the No. 1 ranking herself.
Her trip to Australia though was not as successful, as she was hampered by an adductor muscle injury in Brisbane and Sydney and blisters at the Australian Open. But after a period back in Europe to rest and recover, she is ready to get back to her winning ways.
“Garbine Muguruza reached the semi-finals here in 2015, but then was unfortunate to meet rising star and our future champion Elina Svitolina in 2016, and last year injury forced her to retire during her opening match,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “Clearly she is overdue for further success here and she will without doubt be one of the favourites to claim the title.”
Despite her occasional setbacks, Muguruza loves her life as a tennis professional.
“The best part is the travel, going to incredible places and playing in front of thousands of people in big arenas,” she said. “It’s a healthy life to be a professional athlete. I like to be in these situations and maybe it’s strange, but I like to be out on the edge where you’re nervous, excited, even a little bit afraid.
“I want to keep playing big finals, and fighting again for the No. 1 spot. There’s nothing to be afraid of and nothing to hide from. I want to have the toughest goals because I’ve been there and that helps me believe I can be there again.”
“We are thrilled to welcome back to Dubai a two-time Grand Slam champion and a player who has risen to the very peak of the game,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive vice-chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “Her grace and style both on and off the court make her a welcome addition to any tournament, and we are delighted to see her here once more.”
As well as her two titles last year, Muguruza reached five semi-finals as well as four quarter-finals, and she will be one of the toughest players to beat when play gets underway in just a few days from now.
Among those challenging her for the title will be four others who have been ranked No. 1, with five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova, 2018 Sydney champion, 2018 Australian Open semi-finalist and double Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber, 2018 Australian Open runner-up Simona Halep and 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova all competing. Other tough opponents include defending Dubai champion and recent Brisbane winner Elina Svitolina, two-time Wimbledon winner and 2018 St Petersburg champion Petra Kvitova, 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys, 2018 St Petersburg runner-up Kristina Mladenovic and Australian No. 1 and 2018 Sydney finalist Ashleigh Barty.
The tournament continues between February 26 and March 3 with the 26th staging of the ATP World Tour event which includes ATP World Tour Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov and Montpellier winner Lucas Pouille.
Tickets are on sale online, and from the box office, which is open 9am to 9pm daily. For ticket sales go to www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.