DOHA, Qatar - Former World No.1 Garbiñe Muguruza completed the Qatar Total Open's quarterfinal line-up on Wednesday evening, defeating Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska, 6-2, 6-4.
"I'm very happy because every match is very different and tough," she said during her on-court interview. "I have to say thanks to the crowd, because I know it's late. So thank you all for being here."
Runner-up at the Australian Open, Muguruza has reached the quarterfinals or better at all five events she has played in 2020, showing impressive consistency under new coach Conchita Martinez as she eased past Yastremska in just over 70 minutes on Centre Court.
The Spaniard began the year ranked outside the Top 30, but her surge of solid results have seen her halve her ranking in less than two months, with likely opportunities to return to the Top 10 for the first time since 2018 by Roland Garros, where she won her first of two major titles in 2016.
Battling past Russia's Daria Kasatkina to start the week, she made quick work of talented Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic to book the clash with Yastremska, who defeated Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the previous round.
Yastremska enjoyed an impressive start to 2020 with a run to the Adelaide International final, and pushed Caroline Wozniacki through two sets of what would be the Dane's final match win before retirement.
While the youngster was first two earn break point, Muguruza was quicker to convert, drawing first blood in the fifth game and ensuring an insurance break that helped her serve out the opening set at her first opportunity.
"I think it was about staying with her all the time," she elaborated in her post-match press conference. "She hits a lot of strong shots, some of them go in, some of them go out sometimes. So I felt that I was very solid with my game and it was working since the beginning."
The second set saw the No.11 seed continue that momentum early in the second set, breaking to take a 3-1 lead. Yastremska was undeterred, earning her first breaks of the match as the pair traded four in a row. Muguruza's return proved stronger as she moved within one game of victory.
"At the end of the second set, as always, at the end of the match sometimes it gets tougher. She was playing better at that moment and I just kept fighting the same way and luckily I could close it in two sets."
Despite an emphatic return winner from the Ukrainian, Muguruza nonetheless moved out to match point, clinching the win as Yastremska put one last backhand past the baseline.
Up next for the two-time Grand Slam champion is top seed and World No.1 Ashleigh Barty, who reached the quarterfinals after Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships runner-up Elena Rybakina was forced to withdraw citing an abductor injury.
"I think she for sure stepped it up. I think she's very talented, she's holding in that spot for a long time. So I think it's great for me to be able to play the World No.1, I'm excited, it's going to be a good match, that's the matches that I'm looking for and that means that I'm still here and I'm still in the quarterfinals."