GUADALAJARA, Mexico - No.6 seed Garbiñe Muguruza booked her spot in the semifinals of the Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara after defeating No.8 seed Anett Kontaveit 6-4, 6-4 to snap the surging Estonian's 12 match winning streak. The former No.1 will advance to the semifinals as the second qualifier out of the Teotihuacán group, posting a 2-1 record along with group winner Kontaveit and will face countrywoman Paula Badosa on Tuesday. The victor will be the first Spanish woman to advance to the finals since Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario finished as runner-up in 1993.
With Muguruza and Badosa, this is the first time two Spaniards have advanced to the semifinal stage at the WTA Finals. Playing in her fourth WTA Finals and first since 2017, Muguruza is into the knockout stage for the first time since her tournament debut in 2015.
Spaniards to advance to WTA Finals semifinal stage:
1989: Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (SF)
1993: Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (R-Up)
2015: Garbiñe Muguruza (SF)
2021: Garbiñe Muguruza, Paula Badosa
"This is amazing. I didn't know all of this history," Muguruza said. "1993, I was born that year."
"It's amazing there are four players left and two of them are Spaniards. I mean, that just shows that Spain has a great level of tennis and a great school. It's going to be a fun match. It's like you said, historical. Hopefully the crowd is going to be on the match. Whoever plays better is going to get the final."
Coming into the match with a 2-0 record after back-to-back straight set wins, Kontaveit confirmed her place at the top of the Teotihuacán group after Karolina Pliskova's three-set win over Barbora Krejcikova earlier in the day. Pliskova's victory created an easy scenario for the Muguruza: win and advance.
"Today was a match that was kind of everything or nothing," Muguruza said. "Starting the round-robin with a loss, it was never good. To finally get two wins and qualify was amazing. Today I think I played the best match out of the three. Cutting this long run from Anett, I was like, Okay, is it going to be me the one to stop her?"
Tale of the Match: Muguruza and Kontaveit split their previous four meetings, with the Estonian winning three weeks ago in the Moscow quarterfinals, racing to a 6-1, 6-1 victory. Muguruza has been the star of the night sessions in Guadalajara all week, having played two memorable three-setters against Pliskova, which she lost 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(6), and Krejcikova, which she won 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Muguruza's familiarity with the conditions at night paid dividends throughout the match, as the usually laser-sharp accuracy that Kontaveit has used to win 28 of her last 30 matches was conspicuously absent. As Kontaveit struggled to find the measure of the court, Muguruza became the first player to break the Kontaveit serve in Guadalajara, doing so in her opening game.
Coming into the match, Kontaveit had faced a total of three break points across her first two matches, but faced four in her opening two service games.
"I think Garbine played a great match," Kontaveit said. "She was very aggressive, just very on it from the first point. I think I made way too many unforced errors. I mean, I don't think I played a very good match. I just wish I could have done a better job today."
After consolidating the break with ease, Muguruza rolled through her service games before facing her first break points of the match as she sought to serve out the set. Each time, Kontaveit sent a forehand return long and Muguruza did not waste the chance to close it out on her first game point, sealing the 38 minute set, 6-4.
The second set progressed as the first, with Muguruza again breaking in the opening game and keeping Kontaveit at bay with easy holds. Muguruza did not face a break point in the second set until, again, she stood to the line to serve out the set and the match. Kontaveit jumped out to a 0-30 lead and earned break point at 30-40, but Muguruza wiped it out quickly with a clean ace out wide and closed out the match with another unreturnable serve.
"I think it was clear my serve was very important to not get broken, and to break her quite fast in the couple of sets," Muguruza said. "Just to maintain my serve and to dominate, try to do less mistakes than her also because the conditions are tough."
Stat of the Match: Kontaveit finished the match with more winners, 17 to 13, but it was Muguruza's serve that proved the dominant stroke. Serving at 57% first serves in, Muguruza won 80% of her first serve points compared to Kontaveit's 66%. The Spaniard also out-aced the Estonian, 7 to 2.
Kontaveit ready to move on to semifinals: "I think I played a very good two matches," Kontaveit said. "Have a lot to learn from today's match. I mean, I'm very happy that I managed to get to the semifinals. Haven't played many round-robin tournaments before other than Zhuhai. Zhuhai didn't go so well for me, so I'm definitely very excited to be through, get two matches in two sets against the top players in the world. I think have to be very happy about that.
"If I happen to play at night again, I'll definitely have to go out there and just practice and work on that length issue that I had today, just try and fix whatever I was doing for the next match."
Muguruza contrasts her run to the semifinals in 2015 to this year: "Well, definitely more experience," Muguruza said. "Saving the energy that I need for when I need it, being very smart about like, don't be too emotional. I started with a loss and I said, That doesn't matter, this is round-robin, I still have chances.
"Just a little bit more perspective, a little bit more experience and mature. I think I'm more ready to face the semifinals than what I was in 2015."
Muguruza on facing Badosa for the first time: "I've been very happy for her," Muguruza said. "She started the year obviously further back. She made her way to the top playing amazing, winning Indian Wells. We shared fun moments in the Olympics. We've talked a little bit. We get to know a little bit more of each other. It's a special week to bond.
"She's always had the talent. I think now she's putting the puzzle together. She's playing great. Everybody can see it."