Australian Open 2020: Garbine Muguruza punches ticket to final with a straight-sets win over Simona Halep
- Garbine Muguruza reaches the first Australian Open final of her career
Garbiñe Muguruza’s never say die attitude moved her into unknown territory at the Australian Open Thursday. In triple-digit heat, the fight for the coveted spot in Saturday’s final went to the Spaniard who battled off Simona Halep 7-6(8), 7-5 at Rod Laver Arena. It marked Muguruza’s first-ever advance to the ladies' final at Melbourne Park.
This marked a sixth meeting between the two and a final spot in the grand slam on the line with the Spaniard leading their head-to-head 3-2. Muguruza was looking to add another grand slam final to her record to go along with her victories at the French Open and Wimbledon. With consecutive wins over seeded players and three wins over Halep - all on hard courts, the 26-year-old had an opportunity to best the world number three.
The Romanian showed her intentions to break the Spaniard, but the unseeded star dug in to fight on for deuce and hold her serve. The players remained on serve through six games. The next break came in the seventh, with Muguruza countering the rally with shots that Halep wasn’t ready for.
A hold gave the Spaniard a 5-3 lead over the fourth seed, but Halep responded strongly. The Romanian drew errors from Muguruza and lob battle near the net foiled Muguruza’s chance to save being broken to love.
In the first set tie-break, Muguruza opened a 3-0 lead before the Romanian could get on the board. But, the 28-year-old leveled at three-all. A fourth consecutive point gave Halep the minibreak, but an error brought her short dominance to a halt.
Muguruza took the next two for a set point but let one get away with a shot long of the baseline. A forcing drive return from Halep brought the score to six-all. Halep gained her first set point of the match, but a big crosscourt from the Spaniard negated it. Muguruza reached 9-8 where on a fifth set point, the 26-year-old clinched it 10-8 closing out the set in 67 minutes.
The second set started with a brief hold of serve before Halep broke first in the third game. Muguruza broke back, but handed the break back to the Romanian who ended taking the lead after the fifth game. Halep stayed ahead of Muguruza, but a chance to break a third time and force a third set were foiled by the Spaniard who served in the tenth game to extend her lead.
Muguruza held two match points, forcing Halep to make the mistake on the final rally of the match where the Romanian lobbed it into the net ending the match after two hours and five minutes of hard tussle.
“I’m very excited to be in the final. It was a long way to go, and I have one more match on Saturday." Muguruza said after the match. When asked about her being down in both sets, she replied,
“I wasn’t thinking that I was down. I was thinking keep going, and at some point, you’re going to have your opportunity. I know I was facing Simona, so it was going to be a hard match.”
The former world number one committed 44 unforced errors but outdid Halep on winners notching nearly double the amount. She’ll take on American Sofia Kenin who has the slight disadvantage of nerves of being in her maiden final while the the Spaniard is in her fourth major final with a 2-1 winning record.
Published 30 Jan 2020, 14:23 IST