Australian Open 2020: Sofia Kenin claims maiden Grand Slam title with three-set win over Garbine Muguruza
It was a finish no one saw coming on the court at Rod Laver Arena Saturday night. Garbine Muguruza had issues midway through the match, faltering late in the third set to hand Sofia Kenin the Australian Open 2020 championship by a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 margin.
Meeting for only their second head to head encounter, the two stars had put in a tremendous effort to make it all the way to the summit clash. Notably, for the first time since 2007, Garbine Muguruza pulled off a rare feat by entering the final of the Grand Slam despite being unseeded.
Muguruza had done well to make the final, beating all of her competitors in style, including a straight-sets victory over Simona Halep in the semifinal. Kenin, on the other hand, was coming into her first-ever Slam final but there were only slightly nervy moments on display as she clinched a memorable maiden Grand Slam win.
She started with a 12-shot rally earning the first point of the set, using the drop shot to hold serve. The 14th seed tried to mix up shots with the Spaniard, but she managed to force deuce with a counteraction. After producing three breakpoints, the 26-year-old broke her in the third and consolidated the hold of serve, taking a 3-1 lead.
They continued service through the seventh game, where Kenin had to play 13 points to avoid going down three games. A key break made it 4-4 as the American kept her pace while the Spaniard fatigued.
However, Muguruza found a way to break back on Kenin, earning a shot at serving for the set. Finding some comfort, Muguruza earned two set points, winning it after a 52-minute long contest.
Despite having four double faults courtesy a bad second serve, the 26-year-old had 15 winners and produced more net-front shots to overtake the American.
In the second set, Kenin looked a lot more comfortable and dominated over the Spaniard, as she broke Muguruza early on and gave the American her first break at 4-1. Soon, Muguruza cut the margin in half but went back down three games with Kenin ending the 7th game with a dominating smash.
With the pressure on Muguruza, Kenin continued her focus of returning quickly, earning two set points before an error from the Spaniard forced a third into play. It took the American nearly half the time than Muguruza's win from the first set to level the match.
Needing to overcome a surge of momentum that was with Kenin, Muguruza tried to serve better in the third set. Three errors put the Spaniard in a spot of bother before a shot that hit the net gave the American an important service hold.
Yet, Muguruza found a way to keep level and got through four games. However, a near break for the Spaniard turned into a complete turnaround for Kenin. Saving three breakpoints, the 14th seed forced deuce and held the fifth, putting pressure on the former World No.1.
A huge double fault from Muguruza made it 4-2 for Kenin, who had the window open to move closer to the title. A strong hold allowed the 21-year-old to play for the title in the eighth game, but Muguruza answered on serve with a pair of aces, before she produced a double fault.
Holding on to a lone game point, the Spaniard committed a seventh to get Kenin to deuce. Kenin reached her first championship point but lost it on a return that fell long of the baseline. However, a ninth double fault from Muguruza brought about Kenin's maiden Grand Slam win, as the Spaniard put her head down and could only blame herself for a series of unforced errors that saw her finishing as runner-up in the end.
Published 01 Feb 2020, 17:25 IST