WTA Dubai: Muguruza v Mertens

Semi Final

Garbine Muguruza (1.40) v Elise Mertens (3.45)

Due to start at 1 pm

Muguruza won their only previous meeting which was at the US Open in 2016. She won in 3 sets on a hard court.

Both players have an excellent overall win percentage. On hard courts Mertens has slightly better long term results. He has also been a little better in the last 12 months. She has won 12 of her 13 matches on hard courts in 2021. Muguruza has won 17 of 21 on hard this season.

Muguruza had not lost a set going into her quarter final with Aryna Sabalenka. She played a superb match to beat Sabalenka in 3 sets. Sabalenka made the better start. She took the only break of serve in the opening set in the fourth game. There were no more break points for either player for the rest of that set. Sabalenka broke the Muguruza serve in the first game of the second set. As often happens when a player goes up by a set and a break her level and intensity dropped a level. Muguruza immediately broke back and also won the next 3 games for a 4-1 lead. She didn’t face another break point for the rest of the set. Sabalenka only faced 1 more break point in the set. In the deciding set it was Muguruza who broke first. Sabalenka broke back straight away but would go on to win just 1 more game.

Garbine Muguruza – Photo: Tennis World USA

Mertens lost a set in the first round against Lucky Loser Viktoriya Tomova. She was more comfortable in the next 2 rounds and beat Caroline Garcia and Shelby Rogers in straight sets. She looked down and out in the quarter final against Jessica Pegula. She served for the first set at 5-4 but was broken and lost the set. In the second set she went 2-5 down. She pulled one of the breaks back and when Pegula served for the match at 5-4 Mertens saved 3 match points and went on to win the set 7-5. She took the third set 6-0.

I favour Muguruza to win this match but she won’t have an easy match. Mertens will need to improve her serve. In the first set of the Pegula match she struggled to find the court with her first serve. The serve improved as the match went on. She withdrew from Adelaide with a right shoulder injury. Perhaps as this week has progressed that shoulder has started to give her more issues with her service action.

We need a slow start from Muguruza. Back her if she gets broken first. Three sets won’t be a huge surprise as long as Mertens sorts her serve issues and her shoulder isn’t troubling her.

Update: Muguruza was broken in the first game of the match but she immediately broke back. She held serve and broke the Mertens serve again for a 3-1 lead. She was broken when serving for the set but immediately broke again to take the set.
The second started with 7 holds of serve before Mertens was broken. Muguruza served for the match at 5-3. Once again she failed to serve it out. Mertens held her own serve and broke Muguruza again. She served for the set but was broken and the set went into a tie break. Muguruza Took the tie break 7-5.
Muguruza won 6-4, 7-6.

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