Garbiñe Muguruza is on a roll. After somewhat no-showing last week’s Doha final, losing 6-2, 6-1 to Petra Kvitova, the 2021 WTA wins leader has bounced right back—earning wins over Amanda Anisimova, Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka. The Spaniard will face rock-solid Elise Mertens as she attempts to reach her third final in five tournaments .

After a slow start against in-form American Jessica Pegula, Mertens fought back from 5-7, 2-5 down, saving three match points in the second set. Mertens and Muguruza last played at the 2016 US Open, with the Spaniard winning, 2-6, 6-0, 6-3.

Mertens is one of the most consistent performers on tour, and should offer a great litmus test for Muguruza. The Belgian is not a desirable opponent on a bad day, but given her lack of firepower, can be a rather beatable one—for Muguruza at least—on a good day.

Muguruza prefers her backhand wing, but has been striking her forehand with conviction all week in Dubai. You rarely see her run around her backhand to hit a forehand, but that’s just what she does here. Clearly she is feeling confident.

Advertising

The Pick: Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Elise Mertens, WTA Dubai semifinal

Muguruza has also been defending well, even able to improvise. Muguruza doesn’t win too many points in this fashion, but when she does it can add insult to injury.

The Pick: Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Elise Mertens, WTA Dubai semifinal

Advertising

Mertens doesn’t pull the trigger early in the point that often, but she’ll need to on Friday. A few backhands like these will go a long way towards upsetting the red-hot Spaniard.

The Pick: Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Elise Mertens, WTA Dubai semifinal

Muguruza clearly put in the work during her off-season, and is a perfect 2-0 in semifinals to start the year. Unless the Belgian ventures far outside her comfort zone, expect Muguruza to reach her third final of the year.

The Pick: Garbiñe Muguruza

Advertising

The Pick: Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Elise Mertens, WTA Dubai semifinal

The Pick: Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Elise Mertens, WTA Dubai semifinal