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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Garbine Muguruza

No. 4-seeded Garbiñe Muguruza converted her eighth match point to subdue Ying-Ying Duan and Petra Kvitova extended her winning streak to eight matches in Doha.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

The challenge of facing elite competition—rather than fostering comfort level on court—drives Garbiñe Muguruza these days.

In her Doha return, Muguruza managed both a disquieting end and dangerous opponent converting her eighth match point to subdue Ying-Ying Duan, 6-3, 6-4, and reach the Qatar Total Open round of 16.

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“Took me a lot of match points, but it was an exicting end,” Muguruza told the media afterward. “I think she went more for her shots and she make them. And she was serving well and I probably did a couple of shots I could have done better. And then it was just a battle: for her to survive and for me to finish the match.”

Down a break early, Muguruza began controlling the center of the court with more frequency.

In a match of first-strike tennis, the Wimbledon winner played cleaner drives. Muguruza hit 14 winners against 21 unforced errors—17 fewer errors than the Chinese qualifier.

A disappointing start to the season saw Muguruza suffer an opening-round loss to Aleksandra Krunic in Brisbane with a cramp after beuilding a 7-5, 5-2 lead, withdraw from Sydney with a right thigh injury then bow to 88th-ranked Su-Wei Hsieh in the Australian Open second round.

Seeking match play—and back-to-back wins for the first time since she reached the Wuhan quarterfinals last September—Muguruza said she carried two simple goals into Doha: stay healthy and compete.

“I’m not looking to feel comfortable on court,” Muguruza told the media. “I’m just looking to compete and have matches against the top girls and just to be in the competition. Doesn’t matter the feeling or the results. I want to feel I’m competing and that I’m healthy and I think that’s really enough.”

To that end, Muguruza has reunited with 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez, who has rejoined the fourth-ranked Spaniard’s coaching team alongside coach Sam Sumyk. Martinez, who coached her former Fed Cup charge to the Wimbledon title last July, was in Muguruza’s box tonight.

"She's going to bring a lot of experience on how to handle tournaments and tough moments,” Muguruza said. “When you aim for the best, you need the best team!"

It was a good day for Wimbledon champions.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova extended her winning streak to eight matches crushing Cagla Buyukakcay, 6-0, 6-3.

Kvitova permitted just four points tearing through the opening set in 19 minutes.

PEtra Kvitova
Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

Fresh off her run to her 21st title in St. Petersburg and a successful Fed Cup weekend, Kvitova served 75 percent, won 72 percent of her first-serve points and crushed four aces in her raising her record to 9-2 on the season.

The 16th-seeded Czech will face Agnieszka Radwanska for a spot in the round of 16.

Radwanska beat Mona Barthel, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, in a wild finish on Monday night. Kvitova leads Radwanska 6-5 in their head-to-head series, however Radwanska has won their last three encounters.

"It's a big challenge, for sure," Kvitova told beIn Sports network. "It’s the second round playing a great player. Aga, she's very tricky, great touch, great hands. She can really play anything she wants to. I just need to be ready for that, recover and have a good sleep then just go there and play free."

Former US Open champion Samantha Stosur swept Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-4, 6-2, setting up a second-round match with eighth-seeded Angelique Kerber. The 30-year-old German has won four of seven matches vs. Stosur.

"Along with Caroline (Wozniacki) and (Simona) Halep, she’s had a great start to the year and probably feeling a whole lot more confident than she did at this time last year," Stosur said of Kerber. "It’s a big challenge for me. We’re pretty close in the head to heads. I know it’s a match up where anything is possible, but she’s really in good form so it’s going to be tough."

No. 12-seeded Madison Keys cruised past Qiang Wang, 6-1, 6-4, into a second-round clash with American compatriot CiCi Bellis, who led Daria Kasatkina, 7-5, 4-1, yesterday when the Russian retired.


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