Henry Wancke | 9th Mar 2020 | 0
Shenzhen | Muguruza finds her mojo
© Zhong Zhi/Getty Images
Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza seems to have found her mojo as she overcame a tough challenge from Zarina Diyas to reach the semi-finals of the Shenzhen Open in south China on Thursday.
When you work hard, in the end things will pay off. Stay there when things don’t go well and keep fighting through. Good things will come. Garbiñe Muguruza
The No 6 seed was the first to book her spot, needing a shade over two hours to move past the Kazhak in three sets, 6-4 2-6 6-4.
Diyas went up a double break to race out to a 4-0 lead but Muguruza pulled one break back in the 5th game.
The Kazakh earned her 3rd break at 15 in the 8th game through a double fault from Muguruza.
The Spaniard started the decisive set with an early break and although Diyas broke back in the 8th game to draw level to 4-4, Muguruza earned another break in the 9th game and closed out the third set 6-4 on her first match point.
It proved to be a tough test for the Spaniard, 26, who endured a torrid 6 months after she left Paris last spring and only won one match between the start of June and the premature end to her season in September.
To her credit, Muguruza has not dwelled on her struggles, re-hiring Conchita Martinez, who guided her to Wimbledon glory in 2017, and she told wtatennis.com after her first-round win over Wang Xinyu that it was a ‘different team, different energy’.
“We have worked together before – there’s no secret about it,” she elaborated. “We’ve known each other for a long time, we have a good connection – there’s no guarantees about it, but so far, so good.”
A good break in the off season in which she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and teamed up again with the former Wimbledon champion is seemingly doing wonders for her confidence and resilience.
The former World No 1, who is a two-time Grand Slam champion, won 4 of the last 5 games in the first set, and 8 of the last 9 points in the match, to seal victory in her first-ever match against the Kazakh No 3, snapping Diyas’ 7-match winning streak to begin the 2020 season.
“I was expecting a very tough match, and at the end, it was,” Muguruza said.
“I think she came out in the second set playing much better. I just kept competing and I’m happy with these kind of victories.”
After serving 10 aces in her second-round victory against American Shelby Rogers, the Spaniard’s serve was again firing over the course of her quarter-final match.
The World No 35 hit 13 aces in the win, including 7 in the final set, to advance to a semi-final meeting against No 5 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.
“So far I’m happy,” Muguruza reflected upon her week thus far. “I’ve played two matches and hopefully I’ll have two more to play.
“It’s my first tournament of the year. I just want to feel good and to play these matches.
“I did a good pre-season. I worked very hard. There’s not a secret to success.
“When you work hard, in the end things will pay off. Stay there when things don’t go well and keep fighting through. Good things will come.”
Her next opponent is the No 5 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, who rallied from a set down to beat local favourite Wang Qiang, 3-6 6-4 6-3, in a topsy-turvy match that lasted more than two hours.
Wang broke her opponent 6 times but Alexandrova responded with 7 service breaks of her own to reach the final four.
The Chinese secured the first in the 5th game to open up a 4-1 lead, the first of 5 consecutive breaks that ended the opening set.
Wang then went up an early break at the start of the second set to build up a 6-3 2-0 lead but Alexandrova broke twice in a row to level and, although she did not convert 3 set points on Wang’s serve at 5-3, she closed out the second set to force the match to a decider when the Chinese hit a backhand wide.
Alexandrova broke twice in the 1st and 7th games to race out to a 5-2 lead and while Wang pulled a break back, the Russian was holding a match point, sealing the win with a further break thanks to a return winner down the line.
Muguruza and Alexandrova have only met once before, when the Spaniard won on her way to winning Wimbledon 2017.
“We played once, but it was a few years ago. I lost, and I hope I can do better tomorrow”, said Alexandrova, who claimed her third WTA 125k title in Limoges over the past four years last December.
“I had a good pre-season. I played a tournament in Limoges, and I think it really helped because I had good tennis practice there,” she added.
The other semi-final will be between unseeded Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic and Kazakhstan’s 7th seed Elena Rybakina.
Rybakina booked her place with a 6-4 4-6 6-2 upset of the No 3 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium, who followed top seed Belinda Bencic and second seed and defending champion Aryna Sabalenka out of the Shenzhen Open.