DUBAI: Two-time Grand Slam champion and 2020 Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza has received a wild card and will join the stellar field that competes next week in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
The regal Spaniard, who won the French Open in 2016 and followed up with a Wimbledon triumph in 2017, made a stunning run to the final of the Australian Open last month but was denied a third Grand Slam crown in a dramatic battle that kept everyone on the edge of their seat right up until the last ball had been struck.
That spectacular march to the final included victories over two-time Dubai winner Elina Svitolina and reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, and it took an heroic effort from feisty American Sofia Kenin to stop her adding to her collection of Grand Slam trophies.
Muguruza has sometimes struggled with consistency and she ended last year ranked a modest 36. Her success in Melbourne though returned her to the top 20 and her best ranking in almost a year.
“I think it’s a great start of the year, for sure,” she said. “I don’t think at all about the previous years – even the good ones or the bad ones. I feel like, ‘What for?’ I got the best out of it, good or bad. I just started a new year. I have a new team. I didn’t disappear. I was there. Not reaching final rounds, for sure. I’m just going to a tournament, see how far I can go.”
“Garbine Muguruza performed magnificently in Melbourne and came very close to adding to her collection of Grand Slam titles, and it is with great pleasure that we welcome her back to Dubai,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “This will be her sixth consecutive time here and she has twice been a semi-finalist. We look forward with great interest to see how she fares here next week.”
Muguruza joins a fantastic field that includes the eagerly anticipated return of tennis Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters, as well as 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin, 2017 and 2018 Dubai champion Elina Svitolina, Dubai defending champion Belinda Bencic and recent Brisbane winner Karolina Pliskova.
The tournament will also include Qiang Wang, who just last month stunned Serena Williams in the third round of the Australian Open after already reaching the quarter-finals of the Shenzhen Open. She is joined by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who also enjoyed a successful run in Melbourne, reaching the quarter-finals after defeating world number 2 Karolina Pliskova and then three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber, before her run was ended by Muguruza.
“Garbine has been ranked as high as number 1 in the world and is clearly once again playing at the very top of her game,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “In the 20th year of the WTA event in Dubai, we can all look forward to seeing if she can become our 14th ladies champion in what is certain to be a fascinating week.”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, begins with the 20th anniversary celebrations of the WTA event which runs from 17th to 22nd February and then continues between 24th and 29th February with the ATP tournament which features reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, eight-time Dubai winner Roger Federer, 2019 ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and 2018 Dubai winner Roberto Bautista Agut. Tickets for the 17th – 29th February tournament are available at www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com