Garbine Muguruza in dreamland as she reaches Wimbledon final
Published 09/07/2015 | 15:58
Spain's Garbine Muguruza has a fairytale first Wimbledon final to look forward to on Saturday after seeing off Agnieszka Radwanska in a dramatic Centre Court clash.
Two weeks ago, Muguruza lost to Britain's Jo Konta in the third round at Eastbourne, and she had never gone beyond the quarter-finals of a grand slam before.
But the heavy-hitting 21-year-old has enjoyed a thrilling run through the Wimbledon draw and added Radwanska to her list of victims, a 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory setting up a shot at Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova for the title.
Muguruza becomes Spain's first women's singles finalist at Wimbledon since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario lost to Steffi Graf in the 1995 and 1996 title matches.
The semi-final newcomer and Radwanska had played each other four times previously, sharing the spoils but with the last two matches having gone Muguruza's way, which is why despite her relative inexperience many made the Barcelona resident a favourite.
The 20th seed showed why that was a worthy status, as she followed up earlier wins over Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber with her gutsy victory that guarantees a top-10 world ranking next week.
It seemed that Muguruza would saunter through when she swept a set and a break in front, yet with the final in her sights she dropped a gear and Radwanska, having been out-hit and out-manoeuvred to that point, took advantage for a while.
The same occurred in the 2012 Wimbledon final, when Radwanska trailed by a set and a break against Serena Williams but recovered to force a decider that went the American's way.
Just like in that match three years ago, Radwanska could not maintain momentum for the third set, with an early break of Muguruza's serve not indicative of what would follow.
The break was immediately returned in kind, halting Radwanska's winning run of six consecutive games from 3-1 in the second set.
Muguruza broke through Radwanska's defences for a 4-2 lead, putting away a powerful backhand into the corner after a tame smash was returned to mid court.
She led 40-15 when serving to pull 5-2 clear and had a distracting foot fault called against her, but Muguruza held her nerve and put away a smash at the net to ease a game away from the final.
Radwanska kept battling and at 5-3 adrift had two break points. Both slipped away. At deuce again, Radwanska challenged a mid-rally shot from Muguruza that Hawk-Eye showed landed on the outer edge of the baseline. It appeared a call had come from Radwanska's coaching team to make the ill-fated challenge.
Come match point, a powerful volley was assured and out of the reach of Radwanska as Muguruza clinched victory, slumping flat on her face on the court in disbelief.
Muguruza said: "I'm happy. I've worked all my life to achieve this moment.
"It's going to be a dream. I'm in the final but I really want to win this tournament so I'll concentrate on the next one."
Asked about her flying start to the match, Muguruza said: "I think I was playing really, really good - too good, so I had to calm down and not get too excited - put on a poker face."
At one set all the contest was in the balance, and Muguruza said on BBC One: "I was thinking the match was going to be tough.
"I was very nervous in the second set, Radwanska has all her experience, and I just had to fight."
Both Muguruza and Radwanska predicted Williams would beat Sharapova - as she has in their last 16 matches - to complete the final line-up.
If that proves to be the case, Radwanska cannot see Muguruza winning the title.
Radwanska said in a press conference: "I don't think she can beat Serena in the final.
"I wish her luck. It's going to be hard."