Spain's Garbine Muguruza and American Sofia Kenin have very different resumes, but they both defied the odds to clash on Saturday in the Australian Open final, a first appearance for both. Photo: Issei Kato
Spain's Garbine Muguruza and American Sofia Kenin have very different resumes, but they both defied the odds to clash on Saturday in the Australian Open final, a first appearance for both. Photo: Issei Kato

Muguruza and Kenin to battle for maiden Australian Open title

By Chiara Palazzo Time of article published Jan 31, 2020

Share this article:

MELBOURNE – Spain's Garbine Muguruza and American Sofia Kenin

have very different resumes, but they both defied the odds to clash

on Saturday in the Australian Open final, a first appearance for

both.

Muguruza, who competed unseeded for the first time since 2014, won

a battle of former number ones, defeating fourth seed

Simona Halep 7-6 (10-8), 7-5 in blistering hot conditions to book her

first slam final since winning Wimbledon in 2017.

Meanwhile 21-year-old Kenin upset a whole nation by knocking out

Australian world number one Ash Barty in straight sets, despite

facing two set points in the first and as many in the second set, to

reach her first grand slam final. 

The 26-year-old Spaniard, who has been struggling to go deep into

slams - reaching just one semi-final since winning Wimbledon in 2017

- started her Melbourne campaign with a viral infection and really

struggled health-wise at the start of the tournament.

"You start day by day, that's what I was doing, each match at a time.

[I'm] very excited to be in the final, you know, it's a long way to

go and I have one more match on Saturday," Muguruza said.

She also had to go past four seeded opponents - including three top

10 ones - to get to the final, defeating fifth seed Elina Svitolina,

ninth seed Kiki Bertens and 30th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova as

well as Halep.

"It is always special to get deep in a Grand Slam. Very excited to be

playing tomorrow again. It's a very long tournament. You have very

tough opponents, not being seeded as well. I'm just happy that I'm

going through every match," Muguruza said on Wednesday after

defeating Pavlyuchenkova.

The 26-year-old battled Halep the following day as temperatures in

Melbourne hit 39 degrees Celsius and some extreme heat measures were

implemented at the tournament, but Muguruza is confident she can be

ready for Kenin on Saturday.

"Luckily I have 48 hours now to recover and get ready for the last

match. We train all of our career to be able to play on this court,

in front of this crowd," the Spaniard said.

Kenin took a very different road to become the youngest Melbourne

finalist in 12 years with Barty the only seeded player she had to

overcome. However she did have to go past teenage phenomenon Coco

Gauff in front of a pretty loud - and partisan - crowd at Melbourne

arena in the fourth round.

The 14th seed, who first broke into the top 100 in 2018, is coming

off the back of a great 2019 campaign in which she won three WTA

titles and defeated Serena Williams en route to the fourth round of

the French Open, where her run ended at the hand of Barty.

Last year also saw Kenin face Muguruza for the first time, with the

American overcoming the Spaniard in three sets in Beijing.

"Hopefully I can use what I did in Beijing to help me," Kenin said of

the match up before knowing for sure she would face Muguruza.

With her win over Barty, the rising star is set to become the

youngest American woman to break into the top 10 since 1999. The

21-year-old is also now the youngest player to defeat a world number

one at a slam since 2014, when Muguruza beat Williams in the second

round of the Roland Garros.

"I'm so grateful and thankful for this moment," an incredulous Kenin

said. "Honestly I'm just so speechless. I honestly can't believe

it. I've just dreamed about this moment since I was five years old

... I've worked so hard to get here."

dpa

Share this article: