No.9 seed Garbiñe Muguruza won her first WTA singles title in nearly two years at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, powering past Barbora Krejcikova 7-6(6), 6-3.
"It means a lot, it’s never easy to win titles," Muguruza said in her post-match press conference. "It doesn’t happen often, and I’m excited that it happened now, after a few finals that didn’t go my way. A nice relief to be able to hold a champion’s trophy."
The former World No.1 Muguruza’s last title came at Monterrey in April of 2019; since then, she had reached the 2020 Australian Open final and two more finals already this season (including last week at the Qatar Total Open), but could not crack into the winner’s circle.
That all changed on Saturday with her 2-hour, 8-minute victory over Krejcikova, as Muguruza picked up her tour-leading 18th match-win of the season. Overall, this marks Muguruza’s eighth career WTA singles title, which includes two Grand Slam titles at 2016 Roland Garros and 2017 Wimbledon.
"It was such a tight match," Muguruza said. "It could have gone either way. I feel like the finals are very hard, the two best players of that week, and I had to work hard for it tonight. Very happy about it.
"I always believed every time that I go out there, I’m one of the players that can get the trophy. There is proof this week, yes, but I’ve always believed that, in good moments and in bad moments."
With powerful play exhibited by both women, Muguruza was cleaner on the day, with her 31 winners matching her 31 unforced errors.
The former WTA Doubles World No.1 Krejcikova, who was seeking her first career WTA singles title in as many tries, had a set point in the opening tiebreak, but ultimately her 21 winners were outweighed by 29 unforced errors.
An exchange of breaks in the first two games augured what would turn out to be a hard-fought and unpredictable opening set. Muguruza moved ahead by a break at 4-2 before Krejcikova struck right back to stay within touching distance, with aggressive play from both players controlling the points.
Muguruza dominated with her forehand to garner three set points at 6-5, but the Krejcikova backhand helped her erase those chances as she stood firm to hold and send the opening frame into a tiebreak.
In the breaker, Krejcikova led 5-3 and slid to a set point of her own at 6-5, but extremely strong serves by Muguruza helped the Spaniard win the next two points, queuing up her fourth set point. Muguruza converted that chance after a wide forehand by Krejcikova, and the first set went to the No.9 seed after a grueling 65 minutes.
"I had to work so hard for it in the first set, the difference of one point, and I’m happy that it went my way," Muguruza said.
Muguruza had to work for her lead in the second set, grabbing a break in a lengthy first game before consolidating for 2-0 in another battle after saving three break points. But once Muguruza clinched that advantage, she never let go for the rest of the encounter.
An ace to hold for 5-3 set up match game for Muguruza, where she raced to triple match point on the Krejcikova serve. Muguruza converted her second of the trio, becoming the first Spanish singles champion in Dubai.
"Everybody that is playing well and feels good [any] week can get the trophy, this is how hard women’s tennis is now," Muguruza said. "Very happy that I managed for two weeks to be able to reach the last match, because it’s never easy.
"You have all these opponents, having to play ten matches in a row, makes it difficult. It’s very hard, and I’m happy that I managed well. Physically it was hard but I was happy that I could handle that."
In the doubles final, No.8 seeds Alexa Guarachi and Darija Jurak breezed to the title, defeating Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan, 6-0, 6-3 in just 53 minutes.
Guarachi and Jurak won over 70 percent of returning points in the championship match, as they completed their week with only one of their five matches going into a match-tiebreak (against No.3 seeds Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs in the quarterfinals).
It is the first team title for Guarachi and Jurak, who in fact fell to Melichar and Schuurs in the first round at Doha last week.
Guarachi, who reached the Roland Garros final last year alongside regular partner Desirae Krawczyk, picked up her 4th career WTA doubles title, and her second of the season (also Adelaide with Krawczyk).
It is a 7th career WTA doubles title for Jurak, and her first since she triumphed alongside Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez at the Bronx in the summer of 2019.