Garbine Muguruza said she squandered too many opportunities after losing a close quarter-final to Jennifer Brady at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday.
Ninth seed Muguruza went down 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 to the American qualifier in a match where small margins made a big difference. The Spaniard created 10 break point opportunities against Brady but was only able to convert one. Brady, on the other hand, fashioned six chances to break and took two.
“I had so many opportunities,” Muguruza, 26, said. “They didn't go my way. I felt like every time I had an opportunity, she was playing the point well, serving big, and making winners. I can't count how many I had.”
It may have been a frustrating end to her Dubai campaign, but another quarter-final appearance offered further encouraging signs of a return to form for a player who struggled for consistent results last season.
A two-time grand slam champion and former world No 1, Muguruza began 2020 ranked No 36. But having made the quarter-finals or better in each of her four events – including a run to the Australian Open final – it appears Muguruza has turned a corner.
“I'm playing a lot of matches and I'm happy that results are getting there,” the world No 16 said. “That's what I really want. I'm not thinking to do this every single week. I just want to play more and more matches.”
For Brady, the win over Muguruza extends what was already a fine week for the world No 52. Having come through qualifying, she is now on a six-match winning run in Dubai, with wins over former two-time champion and third seed Elina Svitolina and French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova.
“I wasn't feeling my best, maybe I didn't play my best tennis, but I just found a way to stay in there, compete, and come out on top,” Brady said. “I played the three matches in qualifying, so moving into the main draw, obviously you have a bit of experience on the court, a bit of feel for the balls, things like that. It's a bit of an advantage.”
Brady has proved something of a giant-slayer this season, having defeated world No 1 Ashleigh Barty at the Brisbane International last month, and after the win over Muguruza, she holds a 4-2 win-loss record over top 20 players this year.
She will need to improve that record once again when she faces Simona Halep in the semi-finals on Friday after the top seed defeated ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in Thursday's late match.