Muguruza and Kenin to battle for maiden Australian Open title
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
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
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."