Following her second Major title at Wimbledon 2017, Garbine Muguruza stood on the WTA throne, just like a year earlier when she conquered Roland Garros, looking good to chase all four Major crowns and write her name in the history books.
Instead of that, the Spaniard lost the ground completely, losing early in eight of the next nine most prominent tournaments (the semi-final in Paris in 2018) and reaching only three WTA finals in 2018 and 2019 to fade away from the upper ranking positions.
That all changed at the Australian Open where Garbine advanced into the final after rock-solid tennis, losing to Sofia Kenin in three sets but getting back on the right track, recovering confidence and chasing more notable results in the rest of the season.
Garbine will have the first opportunity for that at the 20th edition of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next week, taking a wild card to join an incredibly strong field that includes the majority of players from the top-20.
Ashleigh Barty, Bianca Andreescu and Madison Keys were forced to withdraw but Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Belinda Bencic, Kiki Bertens, Aryna Sabalenka and others should all be there, fighting for the WTA Premier crown.
Muguruza was the semi-finalist in Dubai in 2015, losing in the opening round in the next two years before another semi-final run in 2018, seeking the first final next week and the eighth WTA crown. "I think it's a great start of the year," Muguruza said.
"I don't think at all about the previous years - the good ones or bad ones. I feel like, 'What for?' I got the best out of it, good or bad. I just started a new year with a new team. I didn't disappear; I was there all the time, just not reaching the latter stages.
I'm just going to a tournament, see how far I can go." Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free said: "Garbine Muguruza performed magnificently in Melbourne and came very close to adding to her collection of Grand Slam titles; we welcome her back in Dubai with great pleasure.
This will be her sixth consecutive time here, reaching the semi-final twice. We look forward with great interest to see how she fares here next week." "Garbine has been ranked as high as No. 1 in the world and is clearly once again playing at the very top of her game," said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak.
"In the 20th year of the WTA event in Dubai, we can all look forward to seeing if she can become our 14th ladies champion in what is certain to be a fascinating week."