Spain's Garbine Muguruza will be playing for her third major title when she takes the court in Melbourne on Saturday night. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
Spain's Garbine Muguruza will be playing for her third major title when she takes the court in Melbourne on Saturday night. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

Muguruza 'feeling good' ahead of Australian Open final

EVERY tennis fan knows Sofia Kenin's story by now, how her parents fled Russia and arrived in the US chasing the big American dream with barely $400 in their pockets.

But Saturday night's other Australian Open finalist has a tale to tell too.

Garbine Muguruza has emerged from the Grand Slam wilderness to find herself chasing an improbable third major at Melbourne Park.

"It was a tough journey. Not every day you are going to play a final of a Grand Slam. I think it's something very unique," the statuesque Spaniard said of her surprise run to the championship decider.

On top of the world after adding the 2017 Wimbledon crown to her 2016 French Open trophy, Muguruza spiralled down the rankings to arrive in Melbourne two weeks ago unseeded at a slam for the first time in almost six years.

"It's difficult. You never know who you're going to face right away, not being seeded," she said.

"I didn't thought about it too much. I knew whatever match, it was going to be tough, even how I started the tournament not feeling well.

"I'm happy to not be in the spotlight. It's good. I'm going to go play, doesn't matter who.

"I'm feeling good. I played many top-10 players in a row, got the victories. Definitely it's a sign that my tennis is good.

"Definitely the mission is to get away from here with a big trophy."

After failing to reach a major quarter-final in 2019, and not even passing the first round at her past two in London and New York, Muguruza spent the off-season climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in an effort to start scaling the rankings again.

It's clearly worked, with Muguruza assuring herself a return to the cusp of the top 10 with her Open charge.

"It's tough to say really what's the little difference. I guess maybe structuring better the points, using more my weapons. It's literally, like, half second or one shot the difference," Muguruza said of her revival.

"It's very delicate. It's also a lot about confidence, the way you're playing."

The former world No.1 knows Kenin won't be easy, especially after the 14th seed's watershed win Australia's current No.1 Ashleigh Barty in the semi-finals. But Kenin's win over Barty merely confirmed the 21-year-old's arrival on the big stage.

The former child prodigy been earmarked for stardom for years and last year took out Serena Williams from the French Open and chalked up a tour-leading 38 wins on hard courts.

"She's playing great," Muguruza said of Kenin.

"Since a while she's just progressing up in the rankings and in the results. So she deserves to be in the final with the tennis she has been showing."

Kenin is typically promising to come out swinging in pursuit of her maiden major.

"I've always had that. No matter who I'm playing, where I'm playing, I'm going to fight for it," she said.

"When I'm going on court, I'm there to win, I'm there to do my job. I'm doing my best."


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