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Australian Open: Muguruza climbs back from brink to make Melbourne final

Australian Open: Muguruza climbs back from brink to make Melbourne final
Highlights

Garbine Muguruza won only one match between June and December last year. Suffering illness, she was then thrashed 0-6 by a qualifier in her first set at the Australian Open.

Melbourne : Garbine Muguruza won only one match between June and December last year. Suffering illness, she was then thrashed 0-6 by a qualifier in her first set at the Australian Open.

Now the 26-year-old faces American surprise-package Sofia Kenin in the final in Melbourne on Saturday, on the cusp of a third Grand Slam title.

The Venezuelan-born Spaniard has been keen to play down the swift transformation in her fortunes, but the facts speak for themselves. Dial back to July 2017, when Muguruza won Wimbledon to go with her French Open title a year earlier.

In September 2017 she rose to world number one. What followed was a gradual but marked decline that she is only reversing now. Muguruza won one title in 2018, in Monterrey, Mexico, the other high point reaching the French Open semi-finals.

She retained her Monterrey crown in 2019 but lost in the first round at Wimbledon in July, precipitating a dire run where she reached only one second round in five tournaments. In Melbourne, Muguruza bristled at one reporter's suggestion that she had been stuck in a "coma" for the last two years.

"I think a 'coma' is a pretty strong comment. I would say I think those years were less successful if you compare them to my previous years," said Muguruza, unseeded at a Grand Slam for the first time since 2014. "I just think you struggle as a player and there are moments where things don't go your way.

"You just have to be patient and go through the rough moments, just hang in there and it will come back again." Come back again it certainly has and Muguruza, now at 32 in the world rankings, will dart up to 11th if she beats Kenin in the final.

Despite giving the impression that she merely waited for her A-game to return, Muguruza in fact made two major decisions in November. The first was to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak.

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