WTA Dubai: Daria Kasatkina stuns Garbiñe Muguruza in marathon thriller

WTA Dubai: Daria Kasatkina stuns Garbiñe Muguruza in marathon thriller

Daria Kasatkina narrowly sealed a spot in the final of the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships with a fantastic performance against an erratic Garbiñe Muguruza, who failed to convert three match points in the thriller.

don-han
Don Han

Daria Kasatkina caused a huge shock in the evening under the lights of Centre Court as she ousted world number three Garbiñe Muguruza in three thrilling sets, triumphing 3-6, 7-6, 6-1 having outstandingly saved three match points in the process. The win came as a pleasant surprise, especially when the Spaniard served for the match while also looking in great form.

Nonetheless, Kasatkina proved too strong as her amazing week at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships continues, having defeated Agnieszka Radwanska and Johanna Konta, saving another two match points along the way, in the past few days. Beating compatriot Elena Vesnina in straight sets, Kasatkina followed it up with the impressive win over Muguruza to seal her place in the final where she would face Elina Svitolina.

Daria Kasatkina did not give up even during the dullest moments of the match | Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe
Daria Kasatkina did not give up even during the dullest moments of the match | Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe

Regardless of tomorrow’s Championship match result, Kasatkina is assured to make her top-20 debut on next Monday, making it a new landmark in her young career. The title will, however, see her take the spot of the Russian number one player.

Muguruza dominates, claims the first set 6-3

Muguruza faced several problems trying to find her feet early in the encounter, with multiple errors allowing Kasatkina to earn four break points in the opening game. Nonetheless, the Spaniard found her groove soon, displaying some top-notch tennis despite having a tinge of inconsistency in her game. Things were not going well for either player, with unforced errors being abundant yet neither could find a breakthrough.

However, as the match progressed, Muguruza stepped up her level of play and controlled the proceedings, grabbing the first break of the match in the sixth game, together with the help of several loose errors by Kasatkina. Although the Russian did well to stop the three-game rout, it was too late to produce a comeback as the world number three served out the set to love after just 37 minutes of action.

Garbine Muguruza celebrates winning a point during the hard-fought match | Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe
Garbiñe Muguruza celebrates winning a point during the hard-fought match | Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe

Incredible comeback produced by tireless Kasatkina

Six consecutive service holds started the second set with the momentum seemingly with Muguruza, but the Spaniard was erratic on her returns and often let Kasatkina a way back into the match, which ultimately proved costly. A marathon 18-point game saw the second seed take the lead, looking on course to close out the confidence-boosting victory. The unseeded Russian was able to overcome the disappointment, breaking straight back to love, reflecting her tough mentality.

Although things were going all wrong for Kasatkina on her vulnerable serves which were mercilessly exploited by Muguruza, the world number 24 remained composed and prevented her opponent from serving the match out. Crucial and unusual errors were produced by Muguruza at the critical and nervy moments, ultimately sending the set into a tiebreak to decide its winner.

Garbine Muguruza serves during the match | Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe
Garbiñe Muguruza serves during the match | Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe

The outcome looked settled with Muguruza earning a comfortable 3-0 lead early in the tiebreak, before saving two set points to earn three match points of her own. Lengthy rallies dominated the encounter, with thrilling shots and a baseline-game clinic being put up on Centre Court. Two daring forehand down-the-lines saved Kasatkina from the brink, and her dream week continued after coming out of nowhere to take the second set 7-6 (11), a set which lasted a marathon 86 minutes.

Daria Kasatkina reaches out for a shot | Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe
Daria Kasatkina reaches out for a shot | Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe

Kasatkina strolls through one-sided deciding set

All the momentum was running in Kasatkina after the rollercoaster second set, and she perfectly took advantage of the situation as her forehands started to become a real threat towards Muguruza, who was misfiring in every rally. A fantastic forehand winner sealed her the opening break in the decider, and the Spaniard looked empty in the tank after the physically and mentally draining second set.

Nothing was simply working right for the world number three as her aggressive game style backfired quickly, ending up with countless errors. Continuing to stroll through, Kasatkina’s confidence rose as each point passed, eventually jumping out to a double-break lead while earning the golden opportunity to serve out the match. The pressure did not seem to affect her, with Kasatkina producing yet another incredible comeback to seal the huge victory.

Daria Kasatkina could not believe what just happened after the win | Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe
Daria Kasatkina could not believe what just happened after the win | Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe

Match Statistics: Errors dominate the entertaining affair

Although 30 winners seemed to have sealed the deal for Muguruza, it was her whopping amount of 60 unforced errors which decided the outcome of the match. Kasatkina, despite not playing her best tennis, was displaying some world-class counterpunching skills to grab the win, but also remained solid behind her serves especially when winning 59 percent of points behind her second serves, as compared to just eight points all match for Muguruza.

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