Former world No. 1 Garbiñe Muguruza capped off her scintillating Middle East swing with an eighth career WTA title, winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, 7-6(6), 6-3 over surprise finalist Barbora Krejcikova.

"It means a lot because it's never easy to win a title," Muguruza said in her post-match press conference. "I'm excited it happened after a few finals that didn't go my way, and a nice relief to hold a champion's trophy instead of a runner-up's, but it was such a tight match. It could have gone either way, because a final is between the two best players of that week, and I had to work hard tonight."

Playing her third final of 2021, Muguruza last lifted a WTA trophy at the 2019 Abierto GNP Seguros in Moterrey, and withstood a worthy challenge from the longtime doubles threat to emerge victorious after one hour and 55 minutes on Center Court.

The No. 9 seed overcame numerous obstacles throughout her winning week in Dubai, including a quick turnaround from her runner-up finish at the Qatar Total Open and a continued virtual coaching from Conchita Martinez, who tested positive for COVID-19 upon arriving in Doha last week.


"Behind every good player must be a good team," Muguruza said of Martinez. "I couldn't go out there and perform without the work of a full team, and I just felt like it was the right moment to incorporate the vision of an ex-player. Conchita has a very good way of communicating, which is something that is difficult to find. On top of that, she has a lot of knowledge from having been in my situation for many years as a top player. Since we met years ago, we always felt a really good bond, and we're in a place now where she has everything I'm looking for."

Faced with a tough draw—and with Martinez watching via FaceTime—the Spaniard dispatched reigning Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek and rallied from a set and break down to defeat Aryna Sabalenka for the second week in a row before booking her spot in the final on her seventh match point against Belgian rival Elise Mertens.

"It was challenging because we arrived in the Middle East and found out Conchita was positive for COVID, which was sad for me because you always want your full team with you—especially for this swing with big tournaments. Every day we were chatting about whether she had news, because we didn't know what kind of quarantine she'd have to serve.

"I kept wondering when we'd be back together, so it was energy-consuming. Still, it gave me a lot of information in that, I didn't have a coach but I still played incredibly. It proved that I have to let my racquet talk; my team is there with me, but this gave me a lot of strength as an independent player."

In third final of 2021, Muguruza tops surging Krejcikova to win Dubai

In third final of 2021, Muguruza tops surging Krejcikova to win Dubai


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Across the net in the championship match was Krejcikova, a former WTA doubles No. 1 playing the biggest final of her career after defeating Russian stars Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasia Potapova earlier in the event.

The Czech, who reached the fourth round of the French Open last fall, ultimately acquitted herself well on the onset, breaking to open the match and saving three set point on her serve to force a tie-break. Leading 5-3 in the ensuing Sudden Death, the 25-year-old held a set point that Muguruza saved with a gutsy forehand winner.

"It was a tricky match because it was hard to get a feel for her game," Muguruza said. "We'd never practiced together or played before. I've watched her play doubles, but sometimes it's as tricky to have an unknown opponent as a very good one, because you never know how it's going to go. I had to work so hard in the first set, and the difference was just one point. I think she played great. She had an incredible run and is a very talented player, with good hands and baseline game. I'm just happy I was stronger today."

Two points later, Krejcikova attempted the same forehand only for it to fly wide and hand Muguruza a thrilling opening set.

Carrying that momentum into the second, the two-time major champion broke serve and saved five break points before making her move as Krejcikova served to stay in the match, racing ahead 0-40 and overpowering her less-experienced opposition with a backhand to force the error that sealed the title.

"It definitely helps the confidence to have a trophy under your belt. It's a sign and some real proof that you're playing well and doing the right things. At the same time, I've always been determined to believe in myself, regardless of ranking. I always believe I'm one of the players who can win trophies. This week is proof, but I've always believed, in good moments and bad."

In all, Muguruza struck an even 31 winners to 31 unforced errors and though both women engineered nine break points, it was Muguruza playing the key points best, converting four to Krejcikova’s two.

"It's very hard now-a-days. The level is much stronger; everyone is playing well and can win any tournament. This is how hard women's tennis is right now, so I'm very happy that, for two weeks, I could reach the last match. There are plenty of opponents, and playing 10 matches in a row makes it difficult, but I managed well, physically."


In third final of 2021, Muguruza tops surging Krejcikova to win Dubai

In third final of 2021, Muguruza tops surging Krejcikova to win Dubai