CINCINNATI, OH, USA - For the second straight day, Garbiñe Muguruza came through a marathon match at the Western & Southern Open, this time edging Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach the semifinals, 6-2, 5-7, 7-5.
"I think it was probably one of the best matches of the year, you know, because I felt like we both played very well. Especially in that third set, you know, we were winning points and our serve was there," the Wimbledon champion said after the match. "I know that I won, but I'm sure she, you know, she feels was a great match, as well, because a tough battle and very hot out there.
"I'm happy the way I'm playing and the way I'm going through these tough matches, because, you know, I've got to dig in and somehow win them."
In a match where Muguruza built a 6-2, 3-1 lead and appeared to be headed towards a fourth straight win over Kuznetsova, and third consecutive in straight sets, the Russian hit back and the duo battled in the Cincinnati sun for two hours, 45 minutes.
Kuznetsova broked serve three times in the second set, but did not take her first lead of the match until she edged out the ninth game on serve from 15-30 down to edge ahead, 5-4.
The Russian's return game was at its best as Muguruza tried to send the set to a tiebreak, and she connected on a forehand return winner down the line to knot the match at one set apiece.
A day after saving three match points to edge Madison Keys in a final set tiebreak, Muguruza performed similar magic in the final set, earning the decisive break at the close of a lengthy 11th game and serving out the match on her second match point.
"It's the last set. You give everything you have," the Spaniard said of her final set heroics this week. "I'm trying to be brave and aggressive, not panic, because you're in the third set - and I guess it's working."
Over the course of the victory Muguruza stroked 34 winners to 47 unforced errors, while Kuznetsova's 40 winners were not enough to balance out 57 miscues.
The Spaniard also proved more effective on her break point opportunities, converting seven of 12, while saving 10 of the 15 that Kuznetsova held in the match.
Playing with a heavy heart after Thursday's terrorist attack at home in Barcelona, Muguruza showed her support for all those effected from across the ocean, wearing a black ribbon on her visor.
"I thought about wearing it, but I was playing in a dark outfit, so I thought no. I decided to have it on my visor," Muguruza said of her gesture. "I just posted a picture saying I had it in my mind, in my visor.
"I see all my friends sending messages and we have like a chat group. Everybody is, like, Everybody's okay. So I'm, like, I have to do it. I don't know. Hopefully it helps. I don't know. Not really, but...I felt to have it today, because it's special for me and after what all happened."