MONTERREY, Mexico -- Top seed and World No.3 Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain fought her way to her first title of the year at the Abierto GNP Seguros on Sunday, with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over No.4 seed Timea Babos of Hungary in the championship match.
Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champion, fought from a set and a break down in the match to outlast Babos in two hours and 22 minutes and extend her head-to-head record against the Hungarian to 5-0. This is the sixth WTA singles title of Muguruza's career.
"To tell you the truth it was a difficult match, Timea has been playing very well," Muguruza said to the press, after the match. "I started playing a little better and finished 6-4 in the second set, and it gave me more life to fight for the third set. Little by little I was playing better, getting better too. It was frustrating in some moments, it's a final. It is one of the matches that you leave satisfied from."
"I have been in her situation, losing a tight final, it is hard for an athlete," Muguruza continued. "She played a great tournament, a great final. She does very well in Monterrey and should be happy this week."
The No.1 seed had not dropped a set in the tournament before falling behind against Babos, who had won the Abierto GNP Seguros in 2012 for her first career singles title. But Muguruza righted the ship midway through the second set to pull through the match in three sets.
Initially, it appeared that Babos would get her first win over Muguruza and claim her maiden victory over a Top 5 player in the process. The Hungarian was on fire in the first set, hitting 10 winners to only eight unforced errors, a superb ratio when considering the brutal power of her serve and forehand. Meanwhile, Muguruza started slowly, with only two winners in the set, compared to 10 unforced errors.
Babos clinched the only break for either player in the opening frame at 3-2, when Muguruza double faulted twice in the game to hand over the advantage. Babos held at love to lead 5-2, and though Muguruza scratched her way to a break point two games later, another huge serve eventually gave the lower-seeded player a one-set advantage.
Muguruza opened the second set with more sloppy play, getting broken at love in the first game behind a double fault and two consecutive unforced errors. After the Spaniard could not get another towering Babos serve back in play, falling behind 2-0, the match seemed to be quickly racing towards completion.
But Mugurza slowly started to find the range on her groundstrokes and work her way back into the match. The Spaniard got a crucial break to get back level at 2-2, with a backhand crosscourt winner on her third break point of the game. The World No.3 then held for 4-3 in a protracted six-deuce game, avoiding falling behind a break again.
Babos was then broken while serving down 4-5, double faulting to give Muguruza a second set point in the game, which the Spanish star converted after a Babos backhand sailed wide. Both big-hitting players had 15 unforced errors in the second set, but Muguruza had 13 winners to 10 for Babos, which made the slight difference.
Having come back to one set all, Muguruza's confidence had visibly improved. Plentiful forehand winners were powering her through the early stages of the deciding set, as Babos continued to stay with the top seed behind her stellar serving.
But it would be Muguruza who would take the decisive game in the final set. Serving at 3-2, the Hungarian's serve suddenly deserted her, as she opened the game with a double fault, and fired another one to give Muguruza double break point. Babos saved the first with a well-timed ace, but Muguruza took the 4-2 lead on the next point with a beautiful backhand passing shot for a winner.
Babos had one last chance to get back on serve in the final game, as a wicked crosscourt forehand landed on the sideline to pull her to 30-30. But Muguruza closed out the match two points later, jumping for joy as she added another WTA trophy to her growing collection.
"I think it's one of the times I've been most excited," Muguruza said, regarding her thrilled reaction after she triumphed. "[Abierto GNP Seguros] is one of the most important tournaments."
"In Latin America, I identify myself with the people, they cheer me on, I cannot disappoint them," the champion continued. "I want to win, I want to go home with the trophy, and, well, that has been the case today."