DUBAI, UAE - It took until the the early morning hours for Garbiñe Muguruza to make it past young American hotshot Catherine "CiCi" Bellis, 6-3, 7-5, and advance into the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships quarterfinals.
"It's very late!" Muguruza said of her 2AM finish. "I'm so surprised people are still here. You guys made the match greater, so thank you so much for staying. It was a terrific effort and I'm so happy I won."
Muguruza enjoyed a strong start and looked poised for a quick finish before Bellis twice battled back from a set and a break down, pushing the two-time Grand Slam champion ot the limit in the one hour, 41 minute match.
"I stayed focused all the time, even in the second set when she started playing much better."
In all, Muguruza struck 23 winners to Bellis' seven, and broke serve six times.
"I tried to stay calm and wait until the last moment to close it out."
Awaiting Muguruza in the last eight is French star Caroline Garcia, who pushed the Spaniard to three sets just last week at the Qatar Total Open.
"I don't even know what day it is!" Muguruza joked about the upcoming encounter. "She's definitely one of the girls playing very well. We already had a tough match, so I'm expecting another one."