Quarterfinal. Day 5. Garbine Muguruza

Announcer Andy Taylor. Qatar Total Open 2018. Quarterfinal. Day-5. Garbine Muguruza

Announcer. Andy Taylor. Qatar Total Open 2018 / Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
[04] Garbine Muguruza -04- (ESP) def [7] Caroline Garcia -07- (FRA) 36 61 64

Caroline Garcia last played Garbine Muguruza in September’s Tokyo Quarterfinals. While she lost 26 46, it would be her final loss of the regular season. The Frenchwoman hit China and won 11 consecutive matches, winning the title in Wuhan – then earning two top-5 victories over Svitolina and Halep to capture the China Open. She cracked the top-10 for the first time and reached the Semi’s in her WTA Finals debut.

Since that victory over Garcia in Tokyo, Garbine has gone 7-7. She fell to Ostapenko in the Wuhan Quarters, retired in her 1st-Round match with Stycova at the China Open, and didn’t make it out of the Round Robin stage of the WTA Finals. With an early exit in Brisbane, only one win apiece in both Sydney and Melbourne, and two victories here in Doha, she is focused on turning her luck around.

Just before the Qatar Total Open started, the Wimbledon Champion announced Conchita Martinez as her full-time coach. Aside from a few hiccups while trying to close out her 2nd and 3rd-Round matches with Ying-Ying Duan and Sorana Cirstea, the World #4 has played confident tennis this week.

The only mysetery moving forward is her upper thigh. It’s an injury she’s been dealing with off-and-on for the better part of a year.

Caroline’s timely break earns set-1. Garbine recovers for the victory

Garcia held then broke to open the match, but Muguruza answered with a break of her own before the changeover. Five games later, Caroline broke again and served out the set. While the set lasted just 34-minutes, the level of play was top-shelf. Garcia earned it through the thinnest of margins, and knew she’d need to be timely again to escape with a victory.

That didn’t happen. In the second, Muguruza was in the zone. She won five straight games after the two started set-2 with a pair of holds.

The decider was riddled with anxiety. Garbine gained the edge, consolidating a break to go up 4-2. All she had to do was hold the rest of the way to reach the Semi’s, but she’d been having trouble closing out opponents all week.

Serving, up 4-3, Muguruza fell behind 0-40. It was deja-vu all over again. But this time, she turned it around. With an ace, she chipped it to 15-40. Agressive ground strokes and confident shot-making took her to deuce. On her second ad, she maintained the lead 5-3.

It was Garbine’s key moment during the tournament. While she stumbled in similar situations with the World #105 and #38, she dug-deep and delivered against a top-10 opponent. Two games later, she reached the Semifinals.

Scratch that. With Halep’s withdrawal, Muguruza advances to the Final

The day’s next match saw Simona Halep earn a straight sets victory over 18-year-old American Cici Bellis. After the win, Simona hit her press conference armed with news: She was withdrawing from the tournament.

All week, Simona hadn’t appeared to struggle a bit with the foot-injury she picked up during a punishing 2-weeks in Melbourne. However, after each win, she talked about the pain, and how each upcoming match was a wait and see proposition. After her win over Bellis, her doctor told her there was no more waiting. If she was going to make the Premier Mandatory run in the United States, she had to throw in the towel. So she did.

With the decision, two things: Caroline Wozniacki will maintain the World #1 ranking (for at least another week), and Garbine Muguruza tip-toes into her 9th career Tour-level Final.

Talent is important. Luck and timing are just as significant.

Garbine Muguruza

At 24-years-old, she is a 2-time Grand Slam Champion. She won her first Major title at the 2016 French Open, defeating World #1 Serena Williams in straight-sets. Then last July, in her third career Grand Slam Final, she defeated Venus Williams to earn the title at Wimbledon. Over the Summer, she won her 5th WTA Singles title in Cincinnati, made her 10th career Grand Slam Round of 16 appearance at the US Open, and became the #1 player in the World for the first time; ending 2017 by reaching the WTA Finals Singapore for the third consecutive year. A member of her country’s Olympic and Fed Cup Teams, she was a Quarterfinalist at the Summer Games in Rio and a doubles finalist at the 2015 WTA Finals. Competing in her 2nd Doha Quarterfinal, from Spain – Please welcome the #4 player in the world, Garbine Muguruza

Caroline Garcia

Last month, this 24-year-old reached the Round of 16 at the Australian Open for the first time and climbed to a career-high ranking of #7 in the World. Last year, she was on fire – reaching her first Grand Slam Quarterfinal at Roland Garros, and ending the season by winning back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing. She qualified for the WTA Finals Singapore for the first time, and reached the Semifinals in her Singles debut. A member of her country’s Olympic and Fed Cup Teams, in 2016 she won her first Grand Slam Doubles title at Roland Garros, and reached both the US Open and Fed Cup Finals. On Tuesday, shes defeated last year’s Semifinalist Dominika Cibulkova en-route to tonight’s Quarterfinal match. From France – Please welcome the #7 Player in the World, Caroline Garcia