“2019 started off excellently with my first WTA Tour title in Hobart, and things took off. I did a good tournament in Paris, where I defeated my idol, Serena Williams. All the confidence came with the meetings that I had, with all the success that I had that year ”, revealed the winner of the WTA as the player who made the most progress on the women’s circuit.
It was with high self-confidence that Kenin approached this Australian Open, where his competitiveness was leaving its mark: he eliminated the pertussis Coco Gauff, 15 years old, then ruined the longed for Australian party, by eliminating Ashleigh Barty, number one in the ranking. Even so, Muguruza, champion in Roland Garros (2016) and Wimbledon (2017), was the favorite and demonstrated it in the set initial.
More aggressive, the Spaniard moved away early, to 3-1 and 4-2, and even the ceding of the service, thanks to two double fouls, prevented her from winning the initial match. Kenin left the court and returned with an even greater desire to fight, yielding only three points in his service and reaching 4-1 after a period in which he won 12 out of 15 points played.
The match ended up being 2-2 of the decisive set. Muguruza had three break-points in a row, which the American saved with five brilliant points. “That 2-2, 0-40 game … will stay with me forever. I had to be brave when facing a double Grand Slam champion. I knew I had to play the five best points of my life ”, admitted the super-competitive Kenin. With the adrenaline pumping, the North American took advantage of her opponent’s passivity at 2-3, 40-0, to equalize and, thanks to a double fault, make the break. After two hours, Muguruza gave in completely with the eighth double-foul and fell 4-6, 6-2 and 6-2.
“When I felt that I was approaching the title, I needed to relax, calm down. I did an excellent job, I looked at my ‘box’ and it worked, ”said Kenin, author of 11 winners for only four unforced errors in the last set.
The early years of the Kenin family in the USA, where the father, Alexander, taught computer courses, trained his daughter during the day and drove a taxi at night are just good memories today. Kenin is now the newest Australian Open winner since Maria Sharapova in 2008. And the ninth different champion in the last 12 Grand Slams.
This Sunday (8:30 am in Portugal), the final will be played between the Serbian Novak Djokovic, who is looking for his eighth title in Melbourne, and the Austrian Dominic Thiem, who will have a third chance to make his debut in the Grand Slam.