The desert presented some steep challenges for Garbine Muguruza.
Coming off a physical three-set win over third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, Muguruza met Maria Sakkari, who swept her in Abu Dhabi earlier this year and was without the services of coach Conchita Martinez, who is serving Coronavirus quarantine in a Doha hotel.
The former No. 1 answered all issues steamrolling through nine of the last 10 games overpowering Sakkari 6-3, 6-1 to cruise into her second semifinal of the season at Qatar Total Open.
The 16th-ranked Spaniard points to improved fitness for liberating her game.
Being fitter has helped her play smarter by offering more options, said Muguruza, who improved to 12-3.
“We have been working on that for a long time, you know, like everybody,” Muguruza said. “But especially with my game, you know, try to be aggressive, try to be very fit.
“I think when you’re fit, then your body is prepared to play the way you want. Doesn’t matter if you want to be aggressive, if you want to stay back, if you want to run, right, doesn’t matter. But feeling good physically allows you to choose after how you want to play.”
Fitness could be a major factor in Friday’s semifinals as Muguruza meets fellow former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who overcome a stiff back to beat top-seeded Elina Svitolina in her quarterfinal.
The pair have split four prior meetings. In their last hard-court encounter, Muguruza led 6-1, 3-1 in the Monterrey final when Azarenka retired.
Photo credit: Qatar Total Open Facebook