The 2020 Australian Open women’s singles final is here and few predicted before the tournament who would be in Saturday’s showpiece event at Melbourne Park. Favorites like Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Ashleigh Barty have fallen by the wayside and two outsiders have risen to the top. Getting their hands on the first Grand Slam of the year would mean a huge amount to either player.
For Sofia Kenin, this is a first Grand Slam final. For Garbine Muguruza, this is a chance to return to the top of the women’s game when she had looked to have fallen away from the elite level. This might not be a meeting of two players we expected to be right here right now, but it promises to be a compelling contest.
Here are my two picks for the match:
Sofia Kenin v Garbine Muguruza
Saturday February 1st, Australian Open women’s singles final
It seemed inevitable that Barty would make this final. As the world number one and the home hope, the Australian must have felt this was her year as seeds tumbled around her. In Kenin, though, Barty came up against an opponent who out-fought her, keeping her nerve when the Australian lost hers. She’ll need more of those qualities in the final.
Kenin’s best attributes are largely intangible, traits like determination and desire. Her semi final victory over Barty, however, was also based on strong serving, with the American winning 67% of her service points. She also won 92% of her service games and was only broken once by Barty in the whole match.
The number 14 seed grinds down opponents, illustrated by how seven of her last nine sets at the 2020 Australian Open have involved 10 games or more. The only previous meeting between Kenin and Muguruza went to three sets, so there’s reason to believe this one will go the distance such is the nature of both players.
Of course, Muguruza has been here before and got the t-shirt. The Spaniard is a two-time Grand Slam champion, but had fallen a long way short of the elite level recently. In fact, Muguruza is aiming to become the first unseeded player to win the Australian Open since Serena Williams did it in 2007.
The reunion with former coach Conchita Martinez appears to have worked wonders, with Muguruza’s straight sets win over Halep in the semi finals a massive statement of intent. It underlined that the Spaniard is a force once again and when in top form there are few who can match her for sheer intensity.
Muguruza has won six of her last seven finals and has won in straight sets in her last two Grand Slam final appearances. Incidentally, she has won the first set 7-5 in each of the two Slam finals she has won. The Spaniard has far greater experience than Kenin and that should tell in Saturday’s final. Kenin cannot be discounted given the way she has fought this far, but Muguruza has more weapons and is a more complete player.