Muguruza surmounts Australian challenge after Kilimanjaro climb

Garbine Muguruza (AP)
Garbine Muguruza (AP)

Melbourne - Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to help clear her mind of tennis and the unusual off-season preparation is paying off after she reached round three at the Australian Open on Thursday.

The Spanish former world No 1 defeated home hope Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and faces Ukraine's fifth seed Elina Svitolina or American Lauren Davis next.

The 26-year-old Muguruza won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon the next year, but her career has stalled and she now finds herself ranked 32.

She went out in the first round at the last two Grand Slams, at Wimbledon and the US Open, then decided to try something completely different in preparation for the 2020 season.

"You're climbing that mountain and it's only you. You don't get any award, any prize, any photo, nothing up there," Muguruza said of the few days in November scaling Africa's highest mountain.

"It's really challenging physically and mentally to be there and I was just looking for something fun, a different experience outside from tennis."

For someone who does not like cold weather, Muguruza admits she occasionally had second thoughts while on the trek.

"I did struggle there a lot with my team and climbing and being below zero (degrees) and at night," she said.

"At some point you're like, 'Okay, what am I doing here?'"

It is early days but Muguruza's form has picked up in 2020.

At her season-opening tournament in Shenzhen, China she won back-to-back matches for the first time since the French Open in May-June, before losing in the semi-finals.

She was then forced out of the Hobart quarter-finals with a viral illness.

Results on day four of the Australian Open Grand Slam at Melbourne Park on Thursday (x denotes seeding):

Men's singles

2nd round

Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Federico Del Bonis (ARG) 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1

Pablo Carreno-Busta (ESP x27) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4

Nick Kyrgios (AUS x23) bt Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5

Karen Khachanov (RUS x16) bt Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10/8)

Gael Monfils (FRA x10) bt Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 4-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4, 7-5

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) bt Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 7-5, 6-3, 6-2

Taylor Fritz (USA x29) bt Kevin Anderson (RSA) 4-6, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 6-2

Dominic Thiem (AUT x5) bt Alex Bolt (AUS) 6-2, 5-7, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2

Daniil Medvedev (RUS x4) bt Pedro Martinez (ESP) 7-5, 6-1, 6-3

Alexei Popyrin (AUS) bt Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2

John Isner (USA x19) bt Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) 6-4, 6-3, 6-3

Stan Wawrinka (SUI x15) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA) 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4

David Goffin (BEL x11) bt Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 6-3

Andrey Rublev (RUS x17) bt Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5)

Fernando Verdasco (ESP) bt Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO x26) 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4

Alexander Zverev (GER x7) bt Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 7-5

Women's singles

2nd round

Belinda Bencic (SUI x6) bt Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-5, 7-5

Anett Kontaveit (EST x28) bt Sara Sorribes (ESP) 6-2, 4-6, 6-1

Donna Vekic (CRO x19) bt Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-4, 6-2

Iga Swiatek (POL) bt Carla Suarez (ESP) 6-3, 7-5

Elise Mertens (BEL x16) bt Heather Watson (GBR) 6-3, 6-0

Catherine Bellis (USA) bt Karolina Muchova (CZE x20) 6-4, 6-4

Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) bt Danielle Collins (USA x26) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5

Simona Halep (ROU x4) bt Harriet Dart (GBR) 6-2, 6-4

Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3

Zarina Diyas (KAZ) bt Anna Blinkova (RUS) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Kiki Bertens (NED x9) bt Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-3, 7-5

Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-3, 6-1

Angelique Kerber (GER x17) bt Priscilla Hon (AUS) 6-3, 6-2

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS x30) bt Taylor Townsend (USA) 7-5, 7-6 (7/1)

Karolina Pliskova (CZE x2) bt Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-3, 6-3


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