Muguruza downs Pavlyuchenkova for first Australian Open semifinal

Garbine Muguruza stormed back into the Grand Slam big time with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach her first Australian Open semifinal on Wednesday.

Garbine Muguruza

Spain's Garbine Muguruza celebrates after winning first set against Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova during their women's singles quarter-final match in the Australian Open.   -  AFP

Garbine Muguruza's renaissance continued after the two-time grand slam champion overcame Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-3 to reach the Australian Open semifinal. 

Unseeded for the first time at a slam since 2014, Muguruza has looked a rejuvenated force in Melbourne following her reunion with former coach Conchita Martinez – the pair split in 2018 following the Spanish star's 2017 Wimbledon triumph.

And former world number one Muguruza moved through to her first major semifinal since the 2018 French Open thanks to Wednesday's hard-fought win against 30th seed Pavlyuchenkova.

Muguruza will now face 2018 runner-up Simona Halep for a place in the women's decider.

Holds of serve were at a premium from the outset in Melbourne as Muguruza – back in the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2017 – and Pavlyuchenkova traded breaks in sunny conditions.

Pavlyuchenkova – on a giant-slaying mission after stunning 2016 champion Angelique Kerber and second seed Karolina Pliskova en route to the quarters – claimed the first break in the third game. A double-fault handing the Russian an early 2-1 lead, which set the tone for an absorbing and topsy-turvy contest.


Double-faults were a theme after Pavlyuchenkova handed Muguruza the opportunity to break back immediately following a tense battle at the net, before the latter fended off a break point chance to hold for a 3-2 advantage.

Proving difficult on serve, breaks continued to come and go until Muguruza bucked the trend by holding serve with a powerful winner down the line in the 11th game and a double-fault gifted the Spaniard the chance to close out the 56-minute set on her opponent's racquet and she duly converted.

The second set followed a similar pattern, with three breaks of serve after five in a tense opener.

But most importantly, Muguruza claimed two of those – the decisive break coming to love in the sixth game – as the 26-year-old progressed to her maiden semi in Melbourne.

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