'I've to recover well for both matches'
For the past three weeks, Garbine Muguruza has taken steps to get her body ready for the fight ahead at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
Instead of returning to Barcelona and other creature comforts after winning the China Open, she flew straight to Singapore so that she would not be tired out by travel.
While the other players enjoyed a trip to the spa or the pool on their days off, Muguruza - semi-finalist in both the singles and doubles events - was found either at the practice courts or at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
INTRODUCING THE SEMI–FINALISTS
GARBINE MUGURUZA (ESP) v AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA (POL)
World ranking: No. 3 v No. 6
Year-to-date win/loss: 38-18 v 48-23
YTD win/loss on hard court: 24-11 v 34-17
MARIA SHARAPOVA (RUS) v PETRA KVITOVA (CZE)
World ranking: No. 4 v No. 5
YTD win/loss: 34-8 v 35-13
YTD win/loss on hard court: 17-4 v 22-9
It has helped keep the Spaniard a frontrunner after a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Petra Kvitova yesterday booked her a place in the final four as the White Group's top finisher.
Order of play
Martina Hingis (Sui)/ Sania Mirza (Ind) v Chan Yung-jan/ Chan Hao-ching (Tpe)
Not before 3.30pm
Garbine Muguruza (Esp) v Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol)
Not before 6.30pm
Maria Sharapova (Rus) v Petra Kvitova (Cze)
Followed by Andrea Hlavackova/ Lucie Hradecka (Cze) v Garbine Muguruza/ Carla Suarez Navarro (Esp)
OCBC Square, till tomorrow 11am-8pm: Player appearances daily from 5pm to 5.30pm.
But after her laborious 2hr 33min claw to the finish line yesterday, Muguruza admitted fatigue is now setting in. "For sure, I'm tired today," said the world No. 3, who has played every day since Sunday.
She has spent more than 11 hours on court, much more than the other three semi-finalists - Maria Sharapova (6hr 8min), Agnieszka Radwanska (6hr 11 min) and Kvitova (6hr 5 min).
"Definitely was a very tough match. I'm really happy to win.
"I suffer a lot on the court today, but victories like this, it feels amazing," said Muguruza.
Her clash with Kvitova yesterday, the first time two of the most powerful hitters in the women's game had met on Tour, was far from the duel many had anticipated it to be.
Both were sluggish, both struggled to hold serve and neither seemed able to sustain momentum.
Muguruza, in particular, committed more unforced errors (42) than she had in her two more compelling victories against Angelique Kerber (28) and Lucie Safarova (29).
It was a sub-par showing that clearly irked the player herself, who was seen shaking her head and muttering to herself on changeovers.
She said: "There was a lot of moments that I felt frustrated today...
"I was very nervous also because you see you have your opportunities but you don't like have it until the end."
Despite a second loss in the round-robin stage, Kvitova squeezed into the semi-finals after Safarova's 6-4, 6-3 rout over Kerber in the other singles tie gave Kvitova the edge.
While Kerber admitted she failed to find her "rhythm" from the first point, the German was also critical of the round-robin format and possible qualifying permutations that played in her mind.
A straight-sets win by Safarova would eliminate Kerber while giving Kvitova the semi-final spot.
Said Kerber: "I think it's not fair. Like when it's really counting for something, you should play (both matches at) the same time. I was actually trying to be in my tunnel and just focusing on my match."
Kvitova will play Sharapova today but will likely have to pick up the tab for her good friend and fellow Czech Fed Cup team-mate first.
Said Safarova, whose chances of making the last four were snuffed out before she took the court: "We met in the locker room and she was really happy and I'm really happy for her obviously. She said she might buy me some beers."
But more than anything, the 28-year-old was merely looking to finishing her WTA season strongly.
She said: "I was just like fighting for myself to get a positive end of the season because I think I was playing pretty well last couple matches but didn't get the win.
"I was really pumped today to go out there and fight."
Muguruza will play Radwanska in the first semi-final before partnering Carla Suarez-Navarro in the doubles for the day's last match.
For someone who is beginning to tire, a meeting with the crafty Pole - known for her ability to keep opponents on the run - is probably not ideal.
Said Muguruza: "It's going to be a challenge for me to see how much my body can handle. It's great to be in my position... but it's going to be hard. I have to recover well and do everything possible to be ready for both matches.
"I went on the court thinking that I want to win the match, not only a set or just to qualify... if you go on the court, you have to go and win, not to be half-half."
A fatigued Muguruza may have allowed her serve to be broken seven times yesterday but it will surely be a while more before she allows her will to break.