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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday March 11, 2021


Garbiñe Muguruza's run of fine form continued in Dubai on Thursday as the Spaniard rallied to notch a 3-6,6-3, 6-2 triumph over Aryna Sabalenka at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Tennis Express

Muguruza improves to 16-4 on the season and 2-0 against Sabalenka (2-1 lifetime). She has now defeated the 22-year-old Belarusian in back-to-back weeks, with both triumphs coming in three sets.

The Spaniard will face Elise Mertens in semifinal action on Friday in Dubai after the Belgian saved three match points to battle past American Jessica Pegula, 5-7, 7-5, 6-0.

Remarkably, Mertens saved three match points at 4-5 in the second set and never looked back. She finished by winning the final eleven games of the match, rallying from 7-5, 5-2 down to claim the victory in two hours and 47 minutes.

"I just didn't want to let it go," Mertens said on court after her 11th victory of the season. "I kept on fighting and that was the spirit today."


Muguruza’s route to victory wasn’t as treacherous as she turned around a one-set deficit decidedly to power to an impressive victory.

Muguruza started to turn the tide early in the second set when she reeled off four games from 0-1 down, breakng Sabalenka twice to lead 4-1.

There was a trade of breaks earlier in the third but the Spaniard took control down the stretch.

"I felt like she came out today more aggressive than our last match in Doha, I felt like she wanted to play more aggressive, faster, serving big and I kind of struggled to find my shots, my game and she quickly broke me with the serve and then took the [first set] 6-3, but then I tried to be more aggressive as well," Muguruza said. "If you have somebody in front of you that is trying to win the point in a couple of shots I have to be faster and stronger and so I tried to be the dominant player after and then everything was more equal."

Muguruza was dominant on return in sets two and three – she won 30 of 55 return points in that span and broke five times on nine opportunities

"I feel like she has a very big serve and I have to be very on top of every point, every serve, try to do good returns, try to not let her serve dominate me," Muguruza said. "It's challenging and you have to take a lot of risk sometimes, but also it's just the way you start the point if you go for it then you feel more dominant in the point and then you feel more in control, it is a key point against a bid server to be able to be on every serve."

Barbora Krejcikova defeated Anastasia Potapova and Jil Teichmann took out Coco Gauff to set up the semifinal in the top half. The final four in Dubai shape up as follows:


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