Dubai Tennis: Garbine Muguruza shows her fighting spirit to advance to quarter-finals

Spaniard takes on the dangerous Jennifer Brady for a spot in the last four

epa08227904 Garbine Muguruza of Spain in action during her second round match against Veronika Kudermetova of Russia at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis WTA Championships 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 19 February 2020.  EPA/ALI HAIDER
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Garbine Muguruza said her ability to “stay in the fight” made a big difference after the ninth seed continued her return to form by reaching the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Muguruza, 26, came through a tough contest against Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 25 minutes and will face American Jennifer Brady for a place in the semi-finals.

“There are a lot of things that I could have done better, but I'm excited that I gave myself another opportunity to be in the quarter-finals,” Muguruza said. “I was just staying in the fight, not giving up until the last point, because she was playing great.”

The start to this season has seen a welcome return to form for Muguruza, who began the year ranked No 36. A run to the Australian Open final has helped the former world No 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion returned to the top 20, and she remains on course for her first title since April last year.

She will need to maintain her form when she takes on a player who has so far reserved her best tennis for the top players this year. Brady has already eliminated two-time Dubai champion and third seed Elina Svitolina and French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova this week, having defeated world No 1 Ashleigh Barty in Brisbane last month.

“When you're in the quarter-finals, you're playing girls that are progressing through the tournament,” Muguruza said. [Brady] is playing good and I’m excited to play her for the first time to get to know her tennis.”

Second seed Karolina Pliskova also booked her place in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, but in far more comfortable fashion.

The Czech world No 3 was too strong for French qualifier Kristina Mladenovic in the first match on Centre Court, racing to a 6-1, 6-2 victory in just one hour and six minutes.

Reflecting on the biggest positives from her match, Pliskova said: “My attitude because I think I was not playing amazing but still, even when I didn’t win points or made some mistakes, I was still there. I didn’t give up.

“Although the score was easy, I could easily let myself think it’s already done. But she was still fighting in the second set. I think it was positive that I really stayed [focused] because she could make it difficult for me if I didn’t stay in the match.”

Pliskova will face the red-hot Elena Rybakina in the quarter-finals after the world No 19 from Kazakhstan claimed a tour-leading 17th win of the season by beating Czech qualifier Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 6-3.

Croatian eighth seed Petra Martic also reached the last-eight with a 6-3, 6-3 win over another Czech, Barbora Strycova, which lasted one hour and 45 minutes.