Australian Open: Will Sofia Kenin's power prevail over the solidity of Garbine Muguruza?
MELBOURNE Sofia Kenin He has been dreaming of this moment since the age of five, being in a Grand Slam final. And beyond. She didn't play with dolls, she was knocking tennis balls in her father's driveway, knocking on the garage door of the family home in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
He had imagined everything, but the reality, more emotion, real emotions, was better than the 21-year-old imagined.
In addition, the effusive fourteenth seed added: I am playing really great tennis. No one is questioning that.
In the Australian Open Women's final on Saturday, the American born in Moscow will face the two-time main winner Garbine Muguruza , who at 26 is rediscovering the advantage of competing at the highest level.
In his fourth important final, and first in Melbourne Park , the Spaniard has defeated two of the top five players on the road to the title round, fifth ranked Elina Svitolina and the fourth sown Simona Halep , winning both matches in straight sets. Longing for a challenge, the 26-year-old reached the highest peak in Africa, mount Kilimanjaro , which is located at an altitude of 19,341 feet. The effort may have helped mentally strengthen the Spaniards.
Conchita Martínez, Muguruza's coach, said: That gives you something mentally, it gives you something on the court. You may think that something is impossible, but nothing is impossible.
That then is where the fight for the Australian Open women's singles crown will play out, on the court, but it will be won in the head.
Alexander, Kenin's father and coach, described his daughter's mentality in detailing his trip, from Moscow to New York and Florida. It began in 1997, a year before she was born. It is where his focus and momentum come from.
Kenin may not have experienced what Alexander and his wife Lena went through when they left the Soviet Union and arrived in New York in search of a life. He went to school to learn English and drove taxis at night while his wife worked as a nurse. It was very, very, very difficult. Amazing things you do when you have to survive. She knows about them, thank God she didn't have to experience them, Alexander said.
Muguruza, who has had motivation problems in the past, is in his first big final since winning Wimbledon in 2017. I feel good. I played with many of the top 10 players in a row, I won the victories. It is definitely a sign that my tennis is good, said the Spaniard.
Her coach, a former Wimbledon champion, added: She has played different kind of players here, aggressive and defensive, and she adjusted well against both types of players.
Kenin and Muguruza have played once, four months ago, in Beijing's outdoor hard courts. The American triumphed in three sets. It was the first time we played, so it's good to have that game as a reference, said Muguruza, leaving the past where it belonged.
Kenin, a counterattack who continues to attack opponents with force and speed, something like a ball machine, is watching their meeting at the China Open, as a reiteration of their abilities.
I want to take the first blows. I don't want to be in defense against her. You can really save the ball. It is aggressive. I feel that it will be about who controls the points more, who dictates. I look forward to using what I did in Beijing to help me, Kenin said.