Muguruza beats Mertens in Dubai to reach 3rd final of 2021

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Garbine Muguruza reached her third final of the season after needing seven match points to beat Elise Mertens 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the semifinals of the Dubai Championships.

Muguruza will play Barbora Krejcikova in the final as the Spanish player seeks her first title since April 2019. She lost the Qatar Open final last week to Petra Kvitova and the Yarra Valley Classic final last month to Ash Barty.

Mertens saved three match points in her quarterfinal win over Jessica Pegula and briefly looked on course for a similar escape against Muguruza.

Muguruza served for the match at 5-3 up in the second set but Mertens saved match point and broke Muguruza’s serve. Mertens then saved three more match points in the next game and two in the tiebreak. By the time Muguruza finally secured the win, nearly half an hour had passed since her first match point.

“She’s a very talented player, always gives you an extra ball back,” Muguruza said of Mertens. “Even if I was 5-3 up and had match points I didn’t lose the focus.”

Czech doubles specialist Krejcikova reached her second career singles final with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Swiss player Jil Teichmann. Krejcikova has won five Grand Slam titles in doubles, most recently her third consecutive Australian Open mixed doubles title last month. Her only WTA singles final was a 2017 loss to Kiki Bertens in Nuremburg.