Date: 5 March 2021
Tournament: Qatar Total Open 2021
Venue: Doha, Qatar
Category: WTA 500
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $565,530
Match timing: Not before 7.30 pm local time, 10 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Victoria Azarenka vs Garbine Muguruza preview
Despite struggling with back pain, Victoria Azarenka overcame the challenge of Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Qatar Open on Thursday. Azarenka will now lock horns with Spain's Garbine Muguruza in the last four.
Azarenka's back issue came up as she was warming up for the quarterfinal encounter against Svitolina. The injury worsened with time, and she required medical assistance as early as in the second game of the match.
After racing to a 4-1 lead in the first set, Azarenka again required a medical timeout. But the Belarusian wasn’t deterred by the pain, as she took the opening set 6-2.
In the second set Azarenka continued to struggle with her movement, but she produced some scintillating winners from the baseline to amass a 5-2 lead. She suffered a minor blip as Svitolina clawed back to make it 5-4, but Azarenka succeeded in serving out the match on her second attempt.
It remains to be seen if Azarenka’s back can heal in time ahead of her semifinal against Garbine Muguruza on Friday.
Muguruza on her part registered an emphatic victory over Maria Sakkari in her quarterfinal on Thursday, prevailing 6-3, 6-1.
The Spaniard served exceptionally well, dropping just nine points on it throughout the match. That kind of serving form will be particularly useful against a returner of Azarenka's caliber.
Muguruza was equally destructive on her return, breaking Sakkari’s serve almost at will. Out of the eight times that the Greek served in the match, Muguruza broke as many as five times.
Victoria Azarenka vs Garbine Muguruza head-to-head
The head-to-head between Victoria Azarenka and Garbine Muguruza is currently tied at 2-2.
Interestingly, however, two of their fixtures were decided by walkovers. Muguruza and Azarenka had to concede a match once each due to injury.
Victoria Azarenka vs Garbine Muguruza prediction
If Victoria Azarenka were physically at her best, she’d have gone into this fixture as the slight favorite. But in light of her uncertain back condition, Azarenka is likely to have a rough evening against a player of Garbine Muguruza’s ability.
Unlike Elina Svitolina, Muguruza will not play the waiting game. Instead, the Spaniard will pounce on every half-chance that comes her way.
Azarenka has not dropped a set throughout the event, but it is Muguruza who has been more dominant in her service games. Muguruza has conceded 10 fewer points on her serve than the Belarusian, despite playing a full extra set.
If the Spaniard serves well on Friday, she will likely be able to outlast Azarenka.
Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to win in three sets.