Garbine Muguruza continued her stunning revival at the Australian Open today as she fought off Simona Halep 7-6(8) 7-5 in a battle of attrition to reach her first Australian Open final in broiling heat.
The unseeded Spaniard arrived at Melbourne Park with low expectations but will now face American 14th seed Sofia Kenin in Saturday?s title match for a chance to clinch her third major title after a period in the Grand Slam wilderness.
With the temperature nudging 40 degrees Celsius (104F) at a scorching Rod Laver Arena, Muguruza was dragged into a see-sawing scrap by fourth seed Halep, who threatened to run away with the second set after losing her cool at the end of the first.
However, the Spaniard who scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in the offseason had the endurance to match Halep and ended up avenging her semi-final loss to the Romanian at the 2018 French Open.
Down 5-4 in the second set, Muguruza rallied and blasted through the dogged Romanian?s defenses, breaking her twice in the finish to avoid a third set in sweltering conditions.
?I wasn?t thinking I was down. I was thinking, ?Keep going and at some point you?re going to have your opportunity?,? said Muguruza. ?I know I was facing Simona so it was going to be a hard match. So I was just hanging in there and fighting with all the energy I had.?
The 26-year-old Muguruza would not have been on many lists of pre-tournament contenders but the class and fighting spirit that saw her hoist the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon trophies has come flooding back in Australia.
?You start day by day, that?s what I was doing,? said Muguruza, who reunited with former coach Conchita Martinez in the offseason. ?Very excited to be in the final, it?s a long way to go. I have one more match on Saturday.?