Fiery Garbine Muguruza saves three match points, stays alive in Zhuhai

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Garbine Muguruza has some pointed words for her coach, and the cameraman, during a changeover (Caution: language):

 

In a season that saw her battle injuries, fail to defend her title at Wimbledon and fall outside the Top 10 after holding the top spot only a year ago, Garbine Muguruza is showing this week that she’s determined to end 2018 on a high note.

At the WTA Elite Trophy on Friday, the Spaniard rallied from the brink of defeat against Anastasija Sevastova, winning their round-robin match 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (1). Muguruza fought off three match points to advance to the semifinals of the season-ending tournament in Zhuhai, China.

With each player entering the match with a 1-0 record in their group, a spot in the final four was on the line. Despite losing her last two matches against Muguruza, Sevastova broke her four-set losing streak against the Spaniard to take the opener.

Struggling at times with her game, Muguruza showed just how tense the situation was during a profanity-laced coaching timeout. (See above.)

The two-time major winner rallied to reach her second semifinal in her last three tournaments, having advanced to the last four a few weeks ago in Hong Kong. She’ll try to reach only her third final of the year when she takes on Madison Keys, who moves on by sets-won percentage despite dropping her last round-robin match to Qiang Wang.

This season has offered more disappointments than highlights for Muguruza. Starting the year ranked No. 2 in the world, the 25-year-old posted a 2-3 record in Australia, which included a surprise second-round loss at the first major of the year, the Australian Open. She rebounded from that to reach the final of her next tournament in Doha, losing to Petra Kvitova in three sets.

Muguruza followed that up with a semifinal finish in Dubai, losing a nail-biter to Daria Kasatkina, but fell early in Indian Wells and Miami afterward. She finally claimed her first title of the year at the International-level event in Monterrey, Mexico.

Her clay-court season started rather inauspiciously before she reached the semifinals of the French Open. However, the 2016 Roland Garros champion fell in straight sets to the eventual winner Simona Halep. Elbow issues slowed the transition to grass and then hard courts as she struggled to take the court, only playing one warm-up event before Wimbledon and the US Open. Muguruza fell in the second round at Wimbledon and the Premier 5 tournament in Cincinnati, where she was the titleholder at both events. A second-round loss to qualifier Karolina Muchova, ranked No. 202, at the US Open only added to the disappointing run that saw her fall out of the top 10.

Having played in the WTA Finals in Singapore since 2015, Muguruza was well out of contention for a spot among the elite eight by the later stages of 2018.  She’s making the most of her debut appearance in Zhuhai, and is showing she’s ready for the fight against such a high-caliber field: Aside from her comeback win against Sevastova, Muguruza also had to rally against Shuai Zhang in her first match.

She’s carrying a 1-3 head-to-head record against Keys, but did take their most recent encounter last year in Cincinnati as Muguruza won their round-of-16 match in a third-set tiebreak. She had to save three match points against the American en route to the title.

Sound familiar? Perhaps the Sevastova match could inspire a similar run as Muguruza tries to end this year on a positive note. 


This Week on Tennis Channel PLUS:

ATP Paris (Mon - Sun 10.29 - 11.4)
- Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic headline the ATP Rolex Paris Masters. Watch live coverage from three courts on Tennis Channel PLUS beginning Monday 10/29 at 6:00 AM EST.

WTA Zhuhai (Mon - Sun 10.29 - 11.4)
- Tennis Channel PLUS has live action of Zhuhai starting Tuesday 10/30 at 12:30 AM EST

USTA Tyler (Tue - Sun 10.30 - 11.4)
-Tennis Channel PLUS features live competition and on-demand coverage of every WTA match from USTA Tyler beginning Tuesday 10/30 11:00 AM EST

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