WTA Australian Open: Aggressive Garbine Muguruza takes first set vs. Sofia Kenin


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WTA Australian Open: Aggressive Garbine Muguruza takes first set vs. Sofia Kenin

The two-time Major champion Garbine Muguruza is a set away from winning the Australian Open, leading 6-4 against Sofia Kenin after 52 minutes. The Spaniard dominated with her first serve and created nine break chances, converting two and controlling the pace almost all the time, hitting 15 winners and 17 unforced errors to keep the points on her racquet.

Kenin claimed the first point of the final when Muguruza netted a backhand, holding at 15 following a forehand mistake from the Spaniard to get her name on the scoreboard and make a promising start. Garbine held in game two with a service winner and created three break chances in the third game, finding the range on the return and pushing Sofia to the limits.

The American wasted two game points and got broken when her forehand landed long in the third game to fall 2-1 behind. Serving to confirm the break, Garbine fired a forehand winner at 30-30 in that fourth game but Sofia stayed in the game with a backhand winner, only to spray a backhand error and push the rival 3-1 up.

Struggling to overpower the rival, Kenin somehow held in the fifth game with a backhand that Muguruza failed to catch, hoping to create some damage on the return and pull the break back. Garbine won an incredible rally at 30-30 in the sixth game with a forehand winner but Sofia reached another deuce on the return with some brave hitting as well, staying there as the Spaniard held with a drive-volley winner to confirm the lead and stay 4-2 in front.

The two-time Major champion earned three break chances in the eighth game, fending off the first one with a backhand winner and the second when Garbine's forehand landed long. The third break chance came and gone for Muguruza following a forced error, creating another one in the next point and denied by a backhand crosscourt winner from Sofia who refused to fall 5-2 down.

In the end, the young American forced a mistake from the opponent to bring the game home, repelling four break chances and reducing the deficit to 3-5. Creating her first break chances in the eighth game, Sofia broke at 15 following a costly double fault from the Spaniard, leveling the score at 4-4 and gathering momentum in those moments ahead of the closing stages of the set.

Staying focused, Garbine earned two break chances with a forehand winner in the ninth game, seizing the second one with a well-constructed attack to move back in front, serving for the opener at 5-4. She held at 30 to grab the opener in 52 minutes thanks to a forehand error from Kenin, moving a set away from the third Major crown.