Five double faults in the final game from Kristina Mladenovic opened the door for a 6-2, 6-4 loss to double Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza as the Spaniard began her 2021 season on Thursday with a win in Abu Dhabi.
Frenchwoman Mladenovic led 40-0 but threw away any chances of staying in the match with her late serving collapse.
Spain’s Murugurza, last year’s Australian Open finalist against Abu Dhabi top seed Sofia Kenin, said it took her part of the first set to get going.
“I had to get used to the court and the wind. I wasn’t hitting the ball properly and my feet were getting all together,” the No. 15 said.
“But I started to feel my game better and turned the score around.”
Muguruza said total control is always her best weapon.
“I need to dominate, if you don’t you will be running for the entire match, I got my feeling and I’m happy with the win.”
Unseeded American Coco Gauff dropped just one game against Norway’s 260th-ranked Ulkkrie Eikeri.