The Australia Open Final: Gabriñe Muguruza versus Sofia Kenin

Gabriñe Muguzura

There are some saying it is surprising that Garbiñe Muguruza and Sofia Kenin are in the final at the Australian Open on Saturday. But, in reality, Muguruza has already won two Grand Slams. So, her emergence can’t be too big of a surprise, not matter how poorly she has played in the last year.

While Kenin might be unknown to many fans, she has a long record of dominance in the US juniors. Plus, her focus is flawless.

Last year, Muguruza was out of it, physically and mentally. But in the off-season, she practiced all the time, she became stronger, she running quicker, and put the ball away when she has a real opportunity. In 2019, she was frustrated, she was tired about playing, and she couldn’t find a way to lock inside her brain. Over the past 12 days, she looks terrific, she grew, she was thoughtful. By the second week, she knew that she liked the sport again.

In the semis, she out-thought Simona Halep 7-6 (8), 7-5. They both have won two Slam. At this tournament on the Melbourne hard courts, Muguruza was a little more aggressive and going into the net, and putting volleys away. Halep could not.

The Spaniard Muguruza is slightly favored to win it again, and she won’t be nervous, because she won Roland Garros and Wimbledon. The pressure was there, but she pushed it aside, and she rose into the sky. Twice.

In front of thousands of fans, Kenin stunned the No. 1 Ash Barty 7-6 (6), 7-5. The 21-year- old Kenin slammed her forehand and backhand, very hard, and pretty deep. She gritted her teeth. She punched it into the corners. She kept staying in there, even when Barty kept chipping her backhand. Kenin finally nailed her shots, and she won it.

The Floridian is thrilled. But, in the final, she has to pretend that no one else is there and it is all about her.

“I’ve dreamed about this moment since I was five years old. I just feel like I’ve always believed in myself,” she said. “I’ve worked hard. I’ve pictured so many times being in the final, all the emotions, how it’s going to lead up into the final. I feel like I’m doing good keeping my emotions. I feel like everything is just paying off. I see all the hard work I’ve been putting is really showing now.”

She could be right. So many U.S. women have won the Australian Open since the 1980s: Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Sharapova is another winner who came over from Russia when she was just 7 years old. And she still lives in Los Angeles.

Kenin’s parents are also from Russia, but Kenin came over to the United States just when she was very young. She started playing when she was only 3+ years old. She never stopped. Both she and Sharapova wanted to battle, all the time.

At the Australian Open on Saturday, if Kenin jumps on the ball immediately, and knows exactly what to do, she can win it. Sharapova won her first Slam when she was only 19 years old. If Kenin can go after everything, right then and there, she will win it in Melbourne. But if she begins to make errors, then Muguruza will seize the day. Hopefully, it will be a tremendous three-setter. Everyone will like that.

Retro, 2001 US Open: Lindsay Stuns Serena and Stops All-Williams Final

Keys Davenport IW 15 TR MALT3246



By Matthew Cronin


Playing her best tennis since she dominated the field at the Australian Open eight months ago, No. 2 Lindsay Davenport knocked defending champion Serena Williams 6-4, 6-2 out of the U.S. Open in the quarterfinals with a mind-boggling display of heavy groundstrokes and return of serves, snuffing out the thought of an all-Williams final.

Williams was hoping to win her first Slam title of 2000 here and meet her older sister Venus in the final. Davenport and No. 1 Martina Hingis had joked together that they didn’t want to see an all-Williams final and Serena was none too pleased to hear that.

“That’s the way a lot of people would want it,” Serena said. “I’m sure a lot people never want an all-Williams final. It’s going to happen in the future inevitably. Nobody’s going to be able to stop it. Unfortunately, I didn’t pull up my end this year. Obviously, no one would want to see an All-Williams final because everybody doesn’t really like us.”

Davenport said that she and Hingis were merely engaging in some friendly locker room banter. “Martina and I get a long very well and joke around,” said Davenport, who was 1-5 against Serena entering the match. “She was just giving me a hard time” ‘Okay, you have to beat her, finally. You never win. Beat her. It wasn’t serious talk….I think Martina  feels she sides with me against them.”

Is Davenport pulling for Hingis to win her semifinal against Venus on Friday?

“Martina’s fun too joke with,” said Davenport, who will play Elena Dementieva in the semis. “Venus doesn’t talk to me much. Serena I don’t see that much. She’s a little bit more friendly, maybe. But Martina and I have talked for many years and I have a better rapport with her.”

Davenport, the ’98 U.S. Open champ,  gained a measure of sweet revenge for her loss to Serena in last year’s semis by not allowing her younger and fleeter foe to draw her into long, physically demanding rallies. Davenport served effectively, jumped on her opponent’s second serve and pounded heavy blows up the middle and into the corners. Her coach, Robert Van’t Hoff, advised her not to give Serena too many balls to take running swings at.

“He thought I should play to the same spot in the court a lot before I went to the open court,” Davenport said. “Serena is very quick. I didn’t want to mix it up because she gets into a groove that way. He said, ‘Keep the balls deep.'”

For her part, Serena failed to make critical mid-match adjustments, never varying her strategy and falling into Davenport’s trap.

“I didn’t really hit my backhand well, my forehand well and I wasn’t serving very well,” Serena said. “It was like I was out there going through the motions. That’s the best  she ever played against me. She should take that attitude toward everyone.”

In full health for the first time since early March, the tall Southern Californian moved extremely well against Williams, frequently chasing down her opponents blasts. She also dissected Serena’s serve with the a surgeon’s precision.

“It was such a frustrating four to five months in the middle of the year,” Davenport said. “It feel great to play at 100 percent and not have to worry about injuries. I haven’t had this freedom on court in a year.”

Tennis and the Art of Losing

As great as Hingis was, she was 5-7 in Slam finals.

By Richard Osborn

Baseball is a game of failure. Always has been, always will be. Ted Williams, The Splendid Splinter, the last man to hit .400, once confessed, “Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of 10 and be considered a good performer.”

Fellow slugger Mickey Mantle concurred, asserting, “During my 18 years, I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season. That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball.”

Tennis has its failures, too. After all, there are 127 losers in every Grand Slam draw. Only one player can be crowned the champion. But I

Levels of Premiership

Ivanovic going deep would help ticket sales

FROM THE MERCURY INSURANCE OPEN – Despite the reduction in the calendar, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that we will ever see a player such as Lindsay Davenport in 1998 win the three straight Premier level events and the US Open again. It is becoming increasingly rare for top players to even compete three consecutive weeks, which was not the case with Davenport, Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams earlier in her career.

Now, when star players such as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova make their schedules, if they choose to play Stanford, which is played three weeks after Wimbledon, there is almost no way that they are going to play the Mercury Insurance Open in San Diego and then Canada and Cincinnati. They do not have to play both Premier 5 level events in Canada and Cincinnati, but they have to play four of the five and since they would rather play those events in North America, they are going to make sure to get it down during the summer.

So consequently, San Diego, which is Premier level event the size of Stanford (neither of which are Premier 5s) is struggling to attract the cream of the top and was crushed when the super popular Kim Clijsters, young Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and defending champion pulled out. It