|Spaniard Garbine Muguruza. – Photo hindustantimes.com|
DUBAI — Spaniard Garbine Muguruza reached the Dubai Championships semi-finals for the second time with a 7-5, 6-2 defeat of Caroline Garcia on Thursday, while Angelique Kerber set up a last-four clash with Elina Svitolina.
Reigning Wimbledon champion Muguruza needed more than an hour to claim the opening set over the fifth-seeded Frenchwoman, who she beat from a set down last week in Doha.
But the match went quickly compared to the second seed’s epic the night before which ended at 2 a.m. local time.
"I was a little bit upset because, I had to play late and went to bed at 4 a.m. There’s nothing to do about that," she said.
"Today I somehow fought with a little bit of the tiredness of yesterday. That’s it."
Muguruza caught fire in the second set, winning 13 points in a row en route to a 4-1 lead.
The match was twice interrupted by rain, before the 24-year-old closed out the win as she broke Garcia for a third time in the set and then served it out.
"It was a very good match, especially the first set. I felt that whoever could win it," Muguruza said. "I felt much better this match than the match we played in Doha.
"When you play a top-10 player, and you beat second time in a row, it gives you a good sign that what I’m doing is right."
The two-time Grand Slam winner is seeking her first title since Cincinnati last August and next faces Daria Kasatkina, a winner over fellow Russian Elena Vesnina 7-6 (7/5), 6-1.
Kerber sets up Svitolina clash
Kerber and Svitolina will face off in the other semi-final after both raced to quick straight-sets wins.
Holder and top seed Svitolina brushed aside Japan’s Naomi Osaka 6-2, 6-4 while German sixth seed Kerber won a rematch of the 2016 US Open final, beating Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-3.
Kerber, ranked ninth after a good start to the season, claimed her 15th win of the year, pulling her level for the most on the WTA circuit with world number one Caroline Wozniacki.
"I have much more confidence than when I started the year where I actually had no idea where I was, especially after last year," Kerber said.
"I have already so many matches under my belt, so that gives me much more match confidence.
"I’m going out there and just thinking about the next match, the next point — nothing else."
Svitolina ended a run of two straight losses to Osaka, ranked 48th and the first Japanese quarter-finalist at the event since 2004.
"I had a couple of tough matches against her. I had to be ready for her to come back," Svitolina said. "I had to be ready for her to raise her level."
World number four Svitolina took control of the opening set against Osaka with a 5-0 lead.
After claiming the first set, Svitolina’s level dropped, with Osaka breaking in the second game and taking a 4-1 advantage before being reeled in.
Svitolina raced to victory with five consecutive games, closing out the win on a net cord.
"Definitely I’m happy the way I’ve been handling the pressure and tough moments," she said.
"I had two good matches. I cannot say it was amazing tennis, but when I needed to I was stepping up and playing well." — AFP