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Sofia Kenin wins Australian Open beating Garbine Muguruza

Sofia Kenin wins Australian Open

Melbourne, February 1: American Sofia Kenin, who was playing in her maiden Grand Slam final, made it one to remember as she beat Spain's former world No 1 Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 to claim the women's title at the Australian Open on Saturday (February 1).

The world No 15 Kenin had previously never progressed beyond the fourth round of one of tennis' four Majors.

But the 21-year-old handled the pressure of losing the first set to overwhelm her more experienced opponent.

While Muguruza was unseeded, the 26-year-old is a former world No. 1 and was bidding for her third Grand Slam title after her 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon triumphs.

But Kenin has shown at Melbourne Park she has the game to beat the biggest names, building on a stellar 2019 when she won all three of her singles titles to reach a career-high world ranking of 12. In the semis Kenin had beaten World No 1 from Australia, Ashleigh Barty.

"No matter who I'm playing, where I'm playing, I'm going to fight for it. It doesn't matter," she said. "Of course, I have a lot of respect for my opponents when I'm playing.

"When I'm going on court, I'm there to win, I'm there to do my job. I'm doing my best," said Kenin.

Muguruza had lost her only prior meeting with the Moscow-born Kenin, in Beijing last year. Kenin said she wanted to be the one to land the first blow. "Of course, I want to do the first punches. I don't want to be in defence against her because she is a very aggressive player," she said.

On Saturday, a tense opening under the Rod Laver Arena roof went in favour of Muguruza, who was bidding to become just the fourth woman since 2000 to clinch a slam while unseeded after topping 2018 runner-up Simona Halep in the semis.

The opening three games took 16 minutes to complete, though more importantly, Muguruza broke at the third time of asking for a 2-1 lead after an almost nine-minute third game.

Back-to-back double faults threatened to undo Muguruza but the Spanish star overcame the brief wobble to consolidate - her relentless baseline work forcing errors from Kenin.

There was a brilliant 23-shot rally in the sixth game, which included Kenin dropping her racket in disgust, as Muguruza kept her cool to retain the break.

Kenin - who was only broken once during her shock semi-final win over world number one Ash Barty - then saved four break points to avoid going down a double break, having dug herself out of a 0-40 hole to stay within touching distance.

Muguruza had not faced a break point until the eighth game and she double faulted consecutively to put the set back on serve but reclaimed her advantage immediately before the unrelenting Spaniard served it out with 52 minutes on the clock.

Positive and engaged, Kenin was not ready to surrender in the second set as she kept her dream alive, reducing the 15 unforced errors from the opening set to just four in the second while not facing a break point.

Kenin earned a break point in the fourth game and she did not need a second invitation, converting for a 3-1 lead - Muguruza struggling to maintain her charge as her first serve percentages decreased.

Showing plenty of emotion, Kenin spiked the ball into the ground after holding for a 5-2 advantage before levelling the match and forcing a deciding set.

Muguruza did not hit the ball as crisply in the second set, her winners dropping from 15 to eight, while she only served at 43 per cent as she received treatment heading into the finale.

She threatened to strike first, racing out to a 0-40 lead in the fifth game, but Kenin reeled off five successive points, hitting four winners and an ace to stay on serve.

Muguruza's inability to utilise those three break points came back to haunt her after the red-hot Kenin took a 4-2 lead in the next game - an advantage she never relinquished as the former crumbled dramatically.

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN Kenin [14] bt Muguruza 4-6, 6-2, 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS Kenin - 28/23 Muguruza - 32/45

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS Kenin - 2/0 Muguruza - 9/8

BREAK POINTS WON Kenin - 5/6 Muguruza - 2/12

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE Kenin - 74 Muguruza - 57


TOTAL POINTS Kenin - 92 Muguruza - 77

(With OPTA, Agency inputs)

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Story first published: Saturday, February 1, 2020, 16:20 [IST]
Other articles published on Feb 1, 2020