Garbine Muguruza eyes new heights after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Having scaled Africa's highest mountain during the off season, former world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza hopes to reach new heights at the Australian Open after last year's tumble down the world rankings.
The Venezuela-born Spaniard made another determined push at Melbourne Park yesterday, heaving herself out of a mid-match slump against Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic to reach the third round with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win at Rod Laver Arena.
The bright start at the year's first Grand Slam follows a disappointing finish to a 2019 season which saw her dumped out of the first round at Wimbledon and the US Open.
The 26-year-old cut her season short, swopped her rackets for crampons and headed to Tanzania with a friend to climb the 5,895-metre Mount Kilimanjaro, a five-day expedition in which she scaled cliffs, waded through icy rivers and passed bitterly cold nights.
"It was a very hard challenge, completely different to what I do," Muguruza, now ranked world No. 32, told reporters at Melbourne Park.
"You're climbing that mountain and it's only you. You don't get any award, any prize, any photo, any nothing up there.
"I really like the experience to see myself in the middle of nowhere and, yeah, just having one clear thought just to keep climbing."
Describing the expedition as both physically and mentally challenging, Muguruza said she was just looking for something fun, a different experience outside of tennis.
For someone who does not like cold weather, she admitted 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, she won back-to-back matches for the first time since the French Open, before losing in the semi-finals. She was then forced out of the Hobart quarter-finals with a viral illness.
Now re-united with former mentor Conchita Martinez, the first Spanish woman to win Wimbledon, Muguruza has yet to produce her vintage best in Melbourne, but her fighting spirit was enough to deal with Tomljanovic.
"Like everybody, you work hard. You put the hours (in)," she said of her joy at the hard-fought win.
"Nothing is guaranteed, so you really appreciate the moment." - REUTERS, AFP
AUSTRALIAN OPENSECOND-ROUND RESULTS (Selected)
- Nadal (x1) bt Delbonis 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1
- Medvedev (x4) bt Martinez 7-5, 6-1, 6-3
- Thiem (x5) bt Bolt 6-2, 5-7, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2
- Pliskova (x2) bt Siegemund 6-3, 6-3
- Halep (x4) bt Dart 6-2, 6-4
- Bencic (x6) bt Ostapenko 7-5, 7-5
- Kerber (x17) bt Hon 6-3, 6-2