Sofia Kenin Defeats Garbine Muguruza to Win 2020 Australian Open Women's Final

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2020

Sofia Kenin of the US reacts as she plays against Spain's Garbine Muguruza during their women's singles final match on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 1, 2020. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
WILLIAM WEST/Getty Images

Sofia Kenin won her first Grand Slam title the hard way on Saturday, fighting back from a set down to beat Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the Australian Open final.

Muguruza was in total control of the opening set, with her 21-year-old opponent seemingly daunted in her first appearance on this stage. However, Kenin raised her game in the second set, with the Spaniard unable to live with her brilliant baseline play.

In the decider, Kenin saved three break points at 2-2 and went on to break Muguruza in the next game. From there, the 14th seed showed a steely nerve to serve the match out and clinch the biggest win of her young career.

Here is the moment Kenin became the Australian Open champion:

The final started with nervy games from both players, as they sought to figure out each other's play in what was only their second meeting.

It was Muguruza who was able to settle first. At 1-1, she broke her opponent for the first time, setting up a third break point with a fantastic return of serve and then watching her opponent fire a forehand wide.

Per WTA Insider, the Spaniard was doing brilliantly to apply early pressure on the Kenin serve:

A hold from Muguruza put some daylight between the pair at 3-1, before the American was able to re-establish some of her patterns, getting a second game on the board behind her booming backhand.

The let-up was only temporary from Muguruza, as she was able to conjure three break points at 4-2 in front. Kenin somehow dug deep to wrest back control of the game and then pounced on some sloppy serving from her opponent. Suddenly, it was 4-4.

Throughout the first set, Kenin was unable to sustain those impressive passages of play, meaning break points flowed freely for Muguruza. The Spaniard had another two in the next game, and after taking the second, she had the chance to serve for the set.

She was then able to put the serving woes of the previous game behind her, clinching the set and edging closer to a third Grand Slam prize: 

ESPN's D'Arcy Maine outlined the challenge facing the 14-seed after losing the opener: 

Despite that setback, Kenin emerged as a different player in the second set. The American was able to dominate on serve, and after breaking to go 3-1 ahead, she didn't look back. Muguruza was suddenly flummoxed by the shot-making of her opponent.

With Muguruza serving to stay in the set at 5-2, Kenin lifted the intensity again. It was enough to seize the set and take the final into a decider.

Tennis writer Carole Bouchard was impressed with the bullishness of Kenin in getting back into the contest:

In the third, the critical moments came in the fifth game, with Kenin finding herself 0-40 down on serve. Despite the hole she was in, the American played five clutch points in succession, including two incredible winners down the line to save the final two break points.

WTA Insider noted what a huge hold it was for her: 

Former tennis star Pam Shriver picked up on the focus of Kenin as she took a big step towards the win:

It proved to be a huge momentum shift. In the following game, Kenin forced deuce and then set up break point with a staggering angled return. Muguruza, clearly nervous, then gifted the American the break of serve with a double fault.

A routine hold put Kenin one game away from glory, and Muguruza, who was clearly deflated after losing that fifth game, was on the ropes on serve again straight away. Jarringly for the Spaniard, on Kenin's second match point, she gave up another double fault and missed out on a third Grand Slam success.

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