Having (narrowly) lost her first round-robin match of the tournament to Karolina Pliskova two nights ago, Garbine Muguruza needed to win against Barbora Krejcikova on Friday night to keep her semifinal hopes alive at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara.

And win she did, battling to a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over the Czech.

“Well that was a very tough match,” Muguruza said in her on-court interview.

“It was amazing. The crowd helped me so much during the second set to come back. I didn’t start the match very well, so in the second set I had to push myself and fight with whatever tennis I had today, and I was playing so much better in the third set.”

There was a clear improvement from Muguruza throughout the match. Her game went awry in the first set, producing 2 winners to 18 unforced errors—but once that set was out of the way things shifted, as the Spaniard was almost even the rest of the match, hitting 19 winners to 22 unforced errors across the next two sets.

She snuck out the only break of the third set to go up 2-1 and never let it go, as the two players held from there until it was all over after two hours and 10 minutes.

The No. 5-ranked Muguruza, who’s back in the Top 5 for the first time since 2018, was asked how it feels to be back at this stage again with the best of the best.

“It was a tough journey, and sometimes there are ups and downs, but I work hard,” she said. “I have an excellent team that helped me to be back in the top.”

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Muguruza's win over No. 3 Krejcikova was her biggest win since she beat a No. 3-ranked Simona Halep at the 2020 Australian Open.

Muguruza's win over No. 3 Krejcikova was her biggest win since she beat a No. 3-ranked Simona Halep at the 2020 Australian Open.

Muguruza’s win over the No. 3-ranked Krejcikova was her 13th career win over a Top 5 player, and her first win over someone in the Top 3 since she defeated a No. 3-ranked Simona Halep in the semifinals of the 2020 Australian Open.

Perhaps more relevantly to this week, it keeps her in contention for a spot in the semifinals of the WTA Finals. Anett Kontaveit already secured her spot in the final four with her 6-4, 6-0 win over Pliskova earlier in the day—on Sunday, Muguruza (1-1) will play Kontaveit (2-0) and Krejcikova (0-2) will play Pliskova (1-1) in the last wave of round-robin matches from the Teotihuacan Group, and one of Krejcikova, Pliskova and Muguruza will join Kontaveit in the final four, depending on the results.

Even Krejcikova still has a shot at advancing if there ends up being a three-way tie at 1-2 and she comes out on top after the tiebreaker rules.