And then there were two… the final of the 2021 Dubai Duty Free Championships will be contested between Garbiñe Muguruza and Barbora Krejcikova. While both semi-finals were decided in straight sets, Muguruza and Krejcikova had to work hard to book their place in Saturday’s final. Read on for Friday’s diary from Dubai.
Day 6️⃣ Highlights
(9) Garbiñe Muguruza d. (10) Elise Mertens, 6-4 7-6(5)
Phwoo what a battle! After a scrappy start, this developed into a rather engrossing match. Muguruza needed SEVEN match points to put away Elise Mertens. When you look at the match from start to finish, I think the key takeway was Muguruza’s intent to be aggressive. She never backed off and kept coming forward to the net, admittedly with varying degrees of success!
It was a tough match, two hours and 11 minutes, which is long for a straight set match. Muguruza failed to serve out both sets. In the first set, Muguruza broke Mertens straight back to win it, 6-4. The second set unravelled for Muguruza from 5-3 up as Mertens strung together three straight games. It had Mertens-Pegula vibes! Mertens was an absolute beast in the rallies and made Muguruza earn every single point. Mertens constructed points wonderfully as she varied up the height of her groundstrokes and played with plenty of slice.
Mertens had an opportunity to serve out the second set at *6-5. Muguruza, who was clearly rattled for a time as she began to rush and mis-time her groundstrokes, showed a lot of character in the heat of the battle. Muguruza played a stunning return game to break Mertens back and then rallied from 1-3 down in the second set tiebreak to seal the win in straights. Lots of positives for Mertens who pushed Muguruza all the way. Not the cleanest of displays of Muguruza in terms of quality from start to finish but it was vintage 2021 Muguruza in terms of how she competed. Loving watching Garbiñe play right now and scrapping for every point!
Barbora Krejcikova d. Jill Teichmann, 7-5 6-2
Krejcikova is into the biggest singles final of her career and she still hasn’t dropped a set yet in Dubai! Krejcikova has beaten Maria Sakkari, Jelena Ostapenko, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Potapova and Jill Teichmann en route to the final. In Friday’s semi-final, Krejcikova won all the key exchanges. Teichmann had two set points in the first set with Krejcikova serving to stay in the set at *4-5. Krejcikova’s forehand came to the rescue. Teichmann then folded as Krejcikova won 10 of the last 12 points to claim the opener.
The pair played five deuce games in the second set. Krejcikova won four of them including the final game of the match where she got a case of the serving yips with an errant ball toss. Krejcikova held on, saving a break point, and then converting on her third match point. Krejcikova gave a delightful post-match interview. I loved seeing her giddiness at reaching the final and getting a shot at Muguruza.
Best point 🎾
Down match point!!!
Hot shot 🔥
Mertens again. Point construction of the highest order.
Day 7 watchlist 📺
(9) Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Barbora Krejcikova
Amazing week for Krejcikova and she’s been so calm and collected! Top effort from Muguruza to come straight from Doha and barge her way through a demanding draw. I’m going for Muguruza…