2020 Australian Open: Sofia Kenin captures first major title with three-set victory over Garbine Muguruza
Kenin kisses the championship trophy/Photo: Cameron Spencer

14th seed Sofia Kenin is the Australian Open champion after a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Garbine Muguruza in the women's championship. The American rallied from a set down to take home her first major championship as she also became the first American since Sloane Stephens at the 2017 US Open to win a Grand Slam championship.

The 21-year old rises to seventh in the world when the new rankings are released on Monday, the highest-ranked American woman. Muguruza lost her first major final since falling to Serena Williams in the 2015 Wimbledon final and will rue her missed chances on break point, converting just 2 of 12.

Muguruza claws her way to first set, takes lead

Perhaps owing to the nerves she thought Kenin would feel, Muguruza elected to receive after winning the coin toss, but the American held and had 0-30 on the Spaniard's serve, Muguruza digging out of the hole with strong serving of her own.

Both women were pummeling the ball off of the ground and Muguruza was pressuring the Kenin serve, her backhand bringing up a third break point in the game, the lead secured after the 21-year old overhit a forehand to give the two-time major champion a 2-1 lead.

Muguruza grabbed the early lead thanks to strong, aggressive play/Photo: Rob Prezioso/AFP
Muguruza grabbed the early lead thanks to strong, aggressive play/Photo: Rob Prezioso/AFP

Kenin was in danger of seeing the set slip away at 3-1, 15-30 down, but smartly targeted the Muguruza forehand to draw successive errors and eventually putting away the hold with a backhand winner to stay within touch. It was the next Kenin service game that would tell the tale of this match.

Facing 0-40, Kenin pulled the game back to deuce, set up game point with a lovely drop shot winner and held with a crosscourt forehand winner. She was even in the set after Muguruza double-faulted twice, but the Spaniard soon regained the break after blasting a backhand on break point to move in front 5-4.

Serving for the set, the Spaniard used the serve-forehand combination to bring up two set points and when Kenin floated a forehand out, Muguruza was a set away from her third major title.

Kenin strikes back, claims second set

Kenin held to love to open the second set, sending a statement of her intent after the disappointing end to the first set. Quickfire holds followed and the American used her heavy groundstrokes to elicit back-to-back errors from 30-30 to grab a 3-1 edge. Errors were starting to come in bunches for Muguruza and Kenin held for 4-1.

Kenin's serve was one of many weapons she displayed in the final/Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
Kenin's serve was one of many weapons she displayed in the final/Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

The 21-year old was starting to control the rallies and she upped the power quotient, dictating play from the baseline. A horrificly shanked forehand from Muguruza gave Kenin a 5-2 advantage, a final set looking likely. She closed the set with a stinging backhand on set point forcing a weak reply from the Spaniard. 

American runs away with third set from ailing Muguruza

Before the deciding set was to get underway, Muguruza called for the trainer to treat a back injury.  She was keeping pace, but Kenin's backhand was sizzling hot, leading her to a 2-1 advantage. A battling hold led to the game that ultimately decided the championship.

Trailing 0-40, Kenin stepped up and took control of all three points, striping a pair of backhand winners and a forehand winner, all down the line to eventually hold for 3-2. Her signature point came at deuce on Muguruza's serve, just getting her racquet on a wide serve to force the Spaniard to play an extra shot, which she sent miles wide. 

A shocked Muguruza double-faulted on break point, handing Kenin a 4-2 advantage. Nearly frittering away a 40-0 lead, the American found a strong serve at 40-30 to hold, putting her a game away from her maiden major title. Serving to stay in the match, a weary Muguruza was faced with championship point and she double-faulted, the 21-year old completing the greatest two weeks of her career.

The 21-year old reacts after championship point/Photo: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/New York Times
The 21-year old reacts after championship point/Photo: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/New York Times
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