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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 27 March 2019

Dubai Tennis: Elina Svitolina closer to finding 'my best game' in crushing win over Garbine Muguruza

'I touched it a little bit today,' says two-time defending champion, who is three matches away from hat-trick of Dubaititles

Elina Svitolina is a two-time defending champion at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Ali Haider / EPA
Elina Svitolina is a two-time defending champion at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Ali Haider / EPA

Elina Svitolina believes she produced tennis close to her best as she dominated two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza to reach the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday night.

The defending champion swept past her Spanish opponent for the loss of only three games as she won 6-1, 6-2 in only 64 minutes to set up a quarter-final against Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro on Thursday.

"I was trying to find my best game," the 24-year-old said. "I think I touched it a little bit today."

Svitolina broke Muguruza's serve five times as her power from the back of the court proved too hot to handle for her frustrated opponent.

Svitolina, who has won the Dubai title the past two years, remains on course to be the first woman to win the tournament three times in a row, with the Muguruza triumph being her 11th in a row at the event.

But the Ukrainian said she is taking nothing for granted and would continue to have to play at a high level if she is to have a chance at making history.

"Every year I have to really work hard," she said. "I had really tough battles here for the past three, four years.

"I played a semi-final I remember against Sara Errani when she won here [in 2016]. It was an unbelievable battle. I played some really tough matches here.

"Even on the weeks when I am winning, it's not easy. It's not like I was touching the ball and everything was in. I had to work my way into the match each time."

Garbine Muguruza had no answers against Elina Svitolina in Dubai on Wednesday night. Ali Haider / EPA
Garbine Muguruza had no answers against Elina Svitolina in Dubai on Wednesday night. Ali Haider / EPA

Svitolina has yet to drop a set in the tournament and is only three victories away from her hat-trick.

But she said it is too soon to think about the prospect of collecting another trophy. When asked when she would start considering her title chances, she laughed and said: "Well, when probably I'm match point in the final.”

She added: ”For me every match, every point here, is very important. I try to focus only on that. I defended the title in Rome [in 2018], so I know how it feels. I know here last year I defended, as well. I know what I have to deal with.

"Now I'm happy the way I played this match, so I'm going to try focus and be ready for tomorrow. The tournament is still early."

Carla Suarez Navarro was involved in a remarkable comeback on her way to beating Kristina Mladenovic on Wednesday. Ali Haider / EPA
Carla Suarez Navarro was involved in a remarkable comeback on her way to beating Kristina Mladenovic on Wednesday. Ali Haider / EPA

Meanwhile, her next opponent Suarez Navarro was involved in a remarkable comeback on her way to beating Kristina Mladenovic, the woman who had shocked world No 1 Naomi Osaka, 7-5, 7-5 in her third-round match.

The Spaniard recovered from being two breaks down at 5-1 in the first set to fightback and win the next six games to take the set, saving six set points along the way.

Of her revival she said: "It was tough. I didn't play good today. I start too bad. Sometimes is not easy take the confidence back again.

"But, well, point by point, game by game, I just tried to fight, tried to relax a little bit."

The 30-year-old has reached the quarter-finals in Dubai twice before, but has never got beyond that stage, and she conceded she will have to improve considerably on Thursday if she is to have any chance of getting past Svitolina.

"Well, she's playing good," she said of the world No 6. "I mean, when I play against Svitolina, always I have to be focus in the tactical game. It's also a really physical game, long points.

"We meet last year a few times. But you know against Svitolina, you have to be there all the time."

Updated: February 20, 2019 10:31 PM

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