1th seed Garbine Muguruza has won the fourth longest match on the WTA Tour this season, outlasting Daria Kasatkina 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in the first round of the Qatar Total Open. The Spaniard broke a two-match losing streak to the Russian in a two hour, 49 minute roller coaster that saw 17 breaks of serve. Muguruza faces Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round.
Muguruza claims back-and-forth first set
Muguruza was out quickly, holding to open the match and at deuce, an untimely double fault by Kasatkina set up break point, converted when the Russian missed a forehand long, the Spaniard ahead 2-0. Kasatkina broke back on her fourth chance, Muguruza sending a forehand wide to conclude a 14-point game.
The rest of the set was up-and-down, the world number 71 winning a further two games, the Australian Open finalist hitting back to take a 5-3 lead only to be broken serving for the set. No games were easy in this match so far and after battling to hold, Muguruza inched in front 6-5.
The Spaniard knew she had to step up her aggression to penetrate the Kasatkina defense and she blasted a crosscourt forehand winner to set up double set point. Missing with a forehand on the first, she watched as the Russian misfired on a backhand on the second chance to take a one-set lead.
Kasatkina produces stunning comeback to level match
The server was much more stable to begin the second set, each woman recording a pair of holds. An epic 24-point fifth game which saw Muguruza save four break points concluded when the Spaniard put away an overhead to hold and take a 3-2 lead. Deflated, Kasatkina was broken in the very next game and a subsequent hold made it 5-2.
Down 5-3, Kasatkina would save a match point courtesy of a Muguruza double fault and when the Spaniard dumped a backhand into the net, the set was back on serve. Another break made it four games on the trot and suddenly it was Kasatkina serving for the set at 6-5.
A wonderfully laced backhand down the line brought up double set point for the Russian and on her second chance, a Muguruza forehand floating just long evened the match for the world number 71 after it looked as though it would be a straight set win for Muguruza.
Muguruza wins break-filled third set
The third set began with Muguruza saving three break points en route to a hold. That would be the last time the server held until the very end of the match, seven straight breaks producing a 5-3 lead for the Spaniard.
The last of those breaks came after a Muguruza forehand was judged to be in following a challenge by Kasatkina. Serving for the match, the Spaniard arrived at 40-15 and a final forehand error from the Russian sealed a hard-fought victory.