How it happened: Kenin rallies for Australian Open title over Muguruza

How it happened: Kenin rallies for Australian Open title over Muguruza

The 21-year-old became the youngest American to capture a major title since 2002, after battling to win, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, on Saturday in Melbourne.

How it happened: A set-by-by breakdown of Kenin's win over Muguruza
Drucker Down Under: With Australian Open win, Kenin’s roaring ‘20s have only just begun
Tignor: The furious zen of Sofia Kenin
Flink: Kenin becomes youngest American to win a Slam since Serena, in 2002


Sofia Kenin defeated Garbine Muguruza, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, to become the 2020 Australian Open champion on Saturday in Melbourne. Kenin is the eighth first-time women's winner in the past 12 majors. Read below to recap her day to remember.


Kenin in press

On recovering from being down 0-40 at 2-2 in the third:

"I can remember that game very well, yes. That's the game I feel like changed things. I had to play some best tennis. I did. After that, I was on fire. I was ready to take the beautiful trophy."

On handling the occasion:

I've played on big stadiums. I feel like that helped me to get to where I am right now. I love the big stages. That's where I'm playing. I'm playing to play on that great stage, have this amazing atmosphere. It was such an exciting atmosphere. Everyone was just cheering. It's just such an honor. They make it so much fun for me to play.

On becoming the No. 1-ranked American:

"It's exciting. I'm so happy. I was told if I would win, I'd be No. 7. It's such an honor. I love representing U.S. Everything is coming into place, a dream come true. Everything I've done, all the hard work I've been doing is paying off."

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Muguruza in press

On the crucial fifth game in the deciding set:

"[It] was a very important moment of the match. 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."

On the change in demeanor between her last major final and tonight:

"I think just right now it's tough to have a big smile, though I'm smiling inside. I'm just taking it easy after these two years. The media has been tough on me, I have to say... Today people will say very good things about me, and the next week bad things if you lose. I kind of found myself less excited with how things work."


Trophy ceremony

Kenin: "My dream has officially [come] true. I cannot even describe this feeling. If you have a dream, go for it, and it's going to come true. 

"The past two weeks have been the best two weeks of my life."

Muguruza: "It's an individual sport but I would never be here without them. They're over there, suffering with me today."

Fellow American Lindsay Davenport, the 2000 champion, presented Kenin with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup (Getty Images)


Third set: Kenin wins, 6-2

9:47pm—KENIN IS A MAJOR CHAMPION! On her second match point, the 21-year-old caps the three-set comeback win when Muguruza double faults to end the contest.

Huge final swing stat: Kenin 5/6 on break points; Muguruza just 2/12.

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9:42pm—Kenin's mental fortitude is her strongest weapon and looks fully intact to carry her to the finish line. She's oh so close to joining the Grand Slam champion club. Muguruza serving, down 2-5.

9:37pm—What a swing. Kenin two games away from the title after Muguruza from 40-15 up, hits four straight errors, the final one coming via a double fault.

9:32pm—Incredibly, Kenin recovers from 0-40 for the second time in this match with five successive winners. Kenin hit two unforced errors off the forehand to fall behind 0-40. Her backhand down the line has been tremendous, and saved the first two. An ace gave her game point, and she beat Muguruza with a forehand pass to stay ahead, 3-2.

9:25pm—Down 15-30, Muguruza battles to draw even. We'll see if she can put Kenin on her back foot more often as the set progresses. Kenin is down to one challenge.

9:21pm—She was tested a bit more on serve, but Kenin closes to lead 2-1.

9:17pm—Muguruza resets wonderfully to hold at love, and lets out some emotion that's been building up. 

9:14pm—Quick hold from Kenin to kick off the biggest set of her career.

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9:12pm—The trainer is called to look at Muguruza before the set begins. Looks to be lower back region.


Second set: Kenin wins, 6-2

9:10pm—A decider it is. Kenin gets a second break, with Muguruza struggling to find the court.

9:04pm—We're a game away from a decider. Another impressive service game for Kenin, who has lost just three points at the line in this set—a stark contrast to the first set.

9:01pm—The Spaniard stops Kenin's run. The 21-year-old will look to make it 5-2 in this next game.

8:57pm—As Muguruza struggles to find her rhythm, Kenin can do no wrong. Now up 4-1, a third set looks to be on the horizon with the way this momentum has shifted. Kenin is taking her shots earlier and ensuring she's not pushed back on her back foot as much.

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8:53pm—Kenin breaks for 3-1, thanks to a higher voltage of energy. Multiple "come ons!" released from the American in that game.

8:47pm—Neither player has lost a point on serve, as Kenin gets to the changeover with another clean hold, leading 2-1.

8:44pm—Muguruza immediate counters with her own love hold, punctuated with an ace down the T.

8:42pm—Perfect start for Kenin, who holds at love to begin set two after leaving the court for a set break.


First set: Muguruza wins, 6-4 

8:37pm—A set away from a third major title. Muguruza closes out an intense opener after 52 minutes. She won 39 points to Kenin's 37.

8:32pm—Muguruza will serve for the set. She breaks right back for 5-4 with a well-constructed point that enabled her to close at net. She's 10 for 14 when she comes forward.

8:29pm—Back even at 4-4 after Muguruza tosses in successive double faults for the second time.

8:25pm—A potential momentum shift? Kenin wipes away four break points to deny Muguruza a chance to serve for the set. The American has increased her willingness to pull the trigger and her drop shot remains a valuable weapon.

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8:19pm—Muguruza maintains her lead, 4-2, and has won 11/12 first serve points. At 30-30, Muguruza won a taxing 23-shot rally and though Kenin won the next point with an inside-out forehand winner, was unable to create her first break point.

8:11pm—Important hold for Kenin to reach 2-3. Have to think the 21-year-old will try to engage Muguruza in more extended rallies. (won 7 of 9 rallies with 9+ shots)

8:06pm—Consecutive double faults crept in, but the Spaniard shakes it off to consolidate the break.

8:00pm—Muguruza breaks for 2-1. Kenin saved two break points, the first with a backhand up the line to end a 19-shot rally, but Muguruza keeps pressing to wear the American down.

7:51pm—Down 0-30 to start, Muguruza recovers nicely with aggressive serving and positioning.

7:47pm—Kenin gets on the board first with a nice hold, twice bringing out the drop shot. Muguruza had won the coin toss and elected to receive.


Pre-match Notes

The Australian Open is set to welcome its 26th different women's champion in the Open era tonight.

The 21-year-old Kenin is the youngest finalist at Melbourne Park since 2008, when Maria Sharapova, her childhood idol, won a battle of 20-year-olds over Ana Ivanovic. The American won her only prior meeting with Muguruza at the end of last September in Beijing, rallying from a break down in the third to prevail.

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Muguruza is looking to add the third piece to her career Grand Slam puzzle, having triumphed at Roland Garros in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017. A win would see the 26-year-old become just the third player, man or woman, to win their first three majors on three different surfaces.

Rankings implications: Kenin is guaranteed to reach at least No. 9 and a victory would mark her debut inside the Top 10 at No. 7, which would see her overtake Serena Williams as the top-ranked American. The resurgent Muguruza came into the Happy Slam ranked No. 32, but with her semifinal win, slashed it in half. Completing her fortnight with a title would vault the Spaniard all the way up to No. 11.