Comeback king Brady comes from a set down to beat Muguruza and advance to Dubai semi-finals

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Qualifier Jenifer Brady ousted Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza and make the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free championship, her first Premier level final four appearance.

“Amazing,” said a delighted Brady afterward after winning 6-7, 6-3, 6-4. “It was a tough match today and really happy to make my first semi-finals here.” Describing what her coach called ‘Brady tennis’, the American said it was committing to her shots and staying aggressive that got her through a tough match.

“I have a new team, I have a new coach, trainer, physio, taking it very serious, being as professional as possible and I’d like to thank everyone for coming out today and it was great to play in front of this crowd.”

In a cagey opening of short rallies, punctuated by an even mixture of clean winners and unforced errors, it was Muguruza who garnered the first break chances in the opening and fifth games.

But Brady is nothing if not resilient, and the pugnacious American also possesses power off both wings, hanging tough with some impressive winners to edge further ahead at 3-2.

Having staved off break points of her own, Brady then turned aggressor, breaking the Spaniard to put herself in charge of the set. Utilising her powerful forehand at every opportunity and growing in confidence, she raced to within a game of the set at 5-2.

A tight hold to 30 from Muguruza asked the serve it out question of Brady as the quality of the match lifted and the rallies extended, the duellists meeting power with power.

And with Muguruza mixing resilient defence with heavy-hitting winners, the Spaniard raised the intensity at the right moment to break back and level at 5-5 with the assistance of a couple of fortuitous net cords.

The pressure was now firmly back on Brady but the American was also lifting her game, meeting the Spaniard’s power with winners of her own as the set drifted towards a fitting tie-break.

It was Brady who made the first mini break, but in a microcosm of the set, back came Muguruza with a third net-cord winner. At 6-6 (5-5), it was difficult to pick a winner, but it was the Spaniard who finally found a glorious backhand winner before forcing an error to prevail.

Muguruza is a formidable front runner with the wind in her sails, but her break point conversion was still a worry. Into the second and, having saved a break point with two winners and an ace, it was Brady who wrested the advantage when the Spaniard threw in successive double faults.

Brady had come back from a set and 4-1 down in the previous round against Marketa Vondrusova, and with Muguruza losing her radar somewhat off the ground, another comeback was on the cards. Yet another double fault and netted backhand meant it was suddenly a set all and with all to play for.

Muguruza boasts a 6-1 win ratio in three set matches this season, her only blip being that of the Australian Open final. But with a host of break points again coming and going (1/10), frustration appeared it may get the better of the former World No. 1.

And despite qualifier Brady having played almost nine hours of tennis in Dubai this week, it was she who was still able to find that little bit extra in the tank to dig deep and break Muguruza to seal the victory.

If Brady is to win it, she will have to do it the hard way as she next plays either top seed Simona Halep or Aryna Sabalenka.

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