Melbourne, 1 February 2020 (dpa/MIA) – American 14 seed Sofia Kenin defeated former world number one Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, in the Australian Open final on Saturday to claim her first career grand slam title.
The 21-year-old became the youngest to win the title in Melbourne since Maria Sharapova defeated Ana Ivanovic in the 2008 final between 20-year-olds, when Muguruza hit an eighth double fault on second match point.
In the first Australian Open final in the Open Era between players ranked outside the top 10, Kenin came back from a set down to defeat the Spanish 26-year-old in just over two hours, playing some outstanding defence and putting increasing pressure on her opponent’s serve.
At 2-2 in the final set, Kenin found herself in a 0-40 hole, but hit five winners to counter Muguruza’s assault and hold. The Spaniard then hit four unforced errors to give Kenin a break point and a double fault to hand the American a 4-2 lead.
Nerves failed the Spaniard again as she served to stay in the match hitting three more double faults in the final game in which she squandered a 40-15 lead.
“My dream has officially come true,” Kenin said after receiving the trophy from 2000 Australian Open champion Lindsay Davenport. “These past two weeks have been the best two weeks of my life.”
Muguruza, 26, said: “I’m not very happy about my performance … I think at the important moments I didn’t find my shots.”
Muguruza, who competed unseeded for the first time since 2014, took an initial 2-1 lead by converting her third break point, keeping pressure on the American’s serve but wasting four chances at a double break on 4-2 and then hitting four consecutive unforced errors – including two double faults – to drop her own serve.
The Spaniard however followed that up with more pressure, converting the second of two break points, taking the opener on her serve in 52 minutes.
In the second it was the 21-year-old American to strike first, taking a 3-1 lead, her relestless chase of every ball starting to become an issue for the two-time grand slam champion.
Kenin went on to lock the sets with another break in the final game, and kept up the momentum in the final set, taking her biggest career victory with four unanswered games.
“I think she found very, very good shots during the match. Especially in the important moments, I think she came out with winners and just hitting the ball very good,” Muguruza said of Kenin.
“Right now it’s tough to be happy, although it has been an incredible tournament. You lose a final, but you got to make it to the final to be able to win or lose.”
Kenin had already shown her resiliance when she knocked out Australian world number one 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.
Thanks to the Melbourne title she will become the youngest American to debut in the top 10 since Williams in 1999.
The world number 15, 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 eventual champion Barty.