Australian Open 2020 Final Review: Sofia Kenin is a Slam champion!

That’s a wrap for the 2020 Australian Open! On Saturday evening in Melbourne, Sofia Kenin beat Garbiñe Muguruza to win her first Slam title. Of the last 10 Slams, seven have produced first time champions. By virtue of the victory, Kenin will crack the world’s top ten in next week’s rankings. This second week has been a tough one to follow but it was nice to finally watch a match live. Read on for my thoughts from the final…

Match recap 🎾

Rallying from a set down, Sofia Kenin produced a stunning performance to beat Garbiñe Muguruza, 4-6 6-2 6-2, and win the Australian Open title!

Considering it was her first Slam final, Kenin made a very positive start to the match. It was Muguruza though who secured the first break of serve at 1-1. Kenin didn’t do a lot wrong in the opener, and managed to keep the scoreline close. Kenin levelled up at 4-4 but Muguruza refocused to win the final two games of the set. Muguruza coupled relentless baseline aggression with forays into the net and drive volley winners.

Kenin really picked up her game in the second set and began to dictate. Muguruza became increasingly impatient in the rallies and hesitant to come forward. Muguruza won 10 of 14 points at the net in the first set, but made just three net approaches in the second set.

Into a third set and Kenin had the early momentum. Muguruza was miscuing her groundstrokes but defended valiantly with the customary grit and tenacity she has displayed all tournament. The turning point of the final set was at 2-2 where Kenin saved three break points from *0-40 as she produced a trio of bold down-the-line winners. It was an extraordinary game from Kenin who didn’t drop another game as Muguruza’s serve became increasingly vulnerable. Sadly, the match ended in anticlimactic fashion with a Muguruza double fault.

Match analysis 🤔

First of all, this was a great final. It was a strange one in that I couldn’t decide who I wanted to win, or who I thought would win. I was just enjoying the tennis and the tension as the match wore on.

It was a sad end to the match for Muguruza whose game and serve unravelled. Still, it was a fantastic tournament for the Spaniard and I think the disappointment will make her hungrier to succeed if/when (surely when) she makes another Slam final. I still believe that Muguruza is at her best when she’s moving forward and hitting drive volleys. It was the winning tactic for her in the first set but she just couldn’t implement it in the final two sets as Kenin kept her rooted to the baseline and on the back foot.

This was surely the performance of Kenin’s career. Against a much more experienced opponent and in the highest of high pressure moments, Kenin simply played the big points much better. I get a bit fed up of all the general “she doesn’t have much power” comments towards Kenin – I don’t agree. The backhand is pure and she was dictating Muguruza for the final two sets with her effortless ability to redirect the ball. As well, tennis is so much more than just hitting winners and mentality is huge. Kenin believes in herself, her game and that she belongs. Already, she is one of the best competitors and match players on the WTA tour.

I’ve been high on Kenin since Indian Wells last year and actually had her to win a Slam in my 2020 predictions! I was one Slam late 😂.  Even with the recency bias, I think Kenin will be a mainstay in the top ten for the next decade. There may be a period of adjustment after this win because her life is going to change dramatically but in the long run, she’s going to be fine. I think her game has the perfect balance between defence and attack, and coupled with her mental toughness and desire to win.

Super stat 🔢

Kenin saved 10 of 12 break points in the final, twice coming from *0-40 down including that memorable game in the third set.

Best point  🎾

From the third game of the first set, this was an incredible break point save from Kenin..

H&H 🤗

This was super classy from Muguruza.

LOL moment 🤣

The start of Kenin’s press conference!

Press highlight 📰

Muguruza’s press conference was fascinating and she was a little more open compared to previous pressers during the tournament. She was asked right at the end about why she hasn’t been as jolly as late.

Recommended media 📺

In case you missed this viral video, Kim Clijsters giving a young Kenin a tour around the Miami Open. Amazing!

Yay 👍

No more nervous waking up to check the scores!

Nay 👎

Four months until the next Slam… 😔

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on Twitter and Facebook. Feature photo by Omar Boraby Photography.

18 thoughts on “Australian Open 2020 Final Review: Sofia Kenin is a Slam champion!

  1. Wow, James!!! I literally bow down. That was a legit prediction you made. I remember being really sceptical about it when commenting your post.

    Also, she is my new favourite player. Such a charming personality. And so competitive!!!

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  2. I really dislike comments that imply Muguruza lost the match. From where I was sitting Sofia Kenin absolutely won it! She did everything with conviction and positive energy! After that tight first set she reevaluated her strategy and began pushing Garbine way out of her comfort zone by moving her from corner to corner. She put massive pressure on the Muguruza second serve and it paid off for her.

    Great match. I really hope we see more of this play from both women over the course of this year!

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  3. Almost had two new Singles champions, but Novak just wouldn’t allow Thiem to beat him. We’ve been so lucky to have two terrific finals though!

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  4. I’m not sure what to think about Muguruza rn.

    A few months ago I doubt even reuniting with Conchita would make a huge difference after her ‘development’ of the last 2 years. Too often she looked unhappy and afraid on-court, plus the problems with a bad grip adjustment and power loss.
    Martinez was always the right coach, calming her down and implementing the right playing style for her: Aggressive, coming into the net, going down the line for the winner. And her game was obviously on an upward swing, these last few weeks.

    Just to be clear: In the context of the expectations before the AO, it has been a terrific tournament and a total surprise.
    But this final felt like a real missed opportunity simply bc she couldn’t perform as well as in her last matches. Imo it was Muguruza’s final to lose. She has bigger weapons, more options in her game. But for me, it was also clear that she will have to play her best tennis bc Kenin wasn’t going to beat herself (hearing from descriptions over her as a player: giant self-believe, tenacity, playing the player…)
    The final was about the mental: Muguruza collapsed under the pressure in the end. 3 DFs in the final game, including on MP says it all. She was also too passive on many of her BPs.
    Kenin played fearless and got rewarded, so congrats to her. Was the first complete match I saw of her…I wish I could like her but experiencing her demeanour for the first time properly and against my fave was a painful experience, it was annoying.

    It’s clear there’s still a lot of work to do in both her game (Her serve didn’t help her in crucial points, her groundstrokes are still quite erratic and not the same as they used to be.) and mindset (as above).
    But I am hopeful given that she showed she’s still got a deep slam run in her and had a kind of resurgence.
    I just hope and think that this loss can help her to become a better player. Outside of Top 30 before, she is now returning to where she belongs.

    Being a fan of her since 2014, and still happy and grateful! 🙂

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    • I disagree on your assessment of Muguruza collapsing under pressure. What Garbine does best is actually to overwhelm her opponents and force them to feel like they are out of the match. That’s why she often wins matches with tight first set and then an easy one.

      The problem in this particular matchup is that Kenin isn’t the kind of player who will allow herself to feel overwhelmed or under pressure. All she had to do was to stay with Garbine and wait for her intensity to just drop that little bit – that isn’t to say that she cracked! It’s virtually impossible in tennis for a player to play a tight match without having one slightly weaker service game. Kenin waited, she was positive and aggressive, and she took it.

      From there it was that much harder for Garbine to make Kenin feel like she was in trouble

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  5. Our Fed Cup team is in trouble right now in Bratislava; “after Anna Karolina Schmiedlova thoroughly outplayed Heather Watson 6-2, 6-3, Harriet Dart produced a desperate, courageous performance in her first live Fed Cup rubber, but she eventually lost 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/feb/07/great-britain-fed-cup-heather-watson-harriet-dart-tennis

    As Tumaini’s article poiints out, the Slovakian players grow up playing on clay and are more used to it than ours are.

    In other news, obviously congratulations to Sofia for her Australian Open title. I’m sure there’ll be other titles to come in the future and possibly another slam title. The future of women’s tennis is looking very bright at the moment.

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  6. So much ignorant below the line blather (nearly used a stronger word) in the Guardian today beneath an article about our Fed Cup loss. To be fair there were also some more intelligent and thoughtful comments wondering why our team lost to a smaller and poorer country such as Slovakia, but some of the others about Heather in particular belittled her career and achievements. I sometimes wonder if we deserve any success in sport in this country (outside football).

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      • Well she’s only 20 but she was a pretty successful junior and there was quite a bit of interest in her when she came onto the tour.

        The first time I saw her play was when she beat Garcia (then a top ten player) in St Petersburg in 2018. I think she was ranked something like 400 in the world and she was just fearless. Since then she’s won 4 ITF titles (from 6 finals) and two International WTA titles (from 4 finals).

        The more she gets used to the biggest courts the more unstoppable I think she’s going to be. She really has it all – incredible serve, power and accuracy off both wings, great net game, super touch and variation. Unlike a lot of the other big hitters in the game right now she moves pretty well and is deadly hitting down the line shots on the run. I just love her!

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  7. Great match yesterday between Simona and Ons (Jabeur); Simona won it after being a match point down in the final set.

    I agree about Rybakina too; she looks a very exciting prospect. I’d far rather see a number of players competing for the top titles, as is the case now, than any one player dominating the tour.

    Magda (Linette)’s Poland’s No 1 player in the rankings at the moment. Good for her because she’s been in Aga’s shadow for so long and has worked long and hard for it but I think she should make the most of it while she still can because Iga Swiatek’s following hot on her heels.

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    • J Brady is another one really impressing at the moment! I watched quite a few of her matches last year – I love her game when it’s on. This year everything just looks so focused and secure. That forehand is just incredible! Peak Stosur like

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      • Yes, she’s already beaten Marketa Vondrousova and Garbine Muguruza in this tournament (that last one was a surprise to me anyway).

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