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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Having scaled Africa’s highest mountain during the offseason, former world number one Garbine Muguruza hopes to reach new heights at the Australian Open after suffering a tumble down the world rankings in 2019.
The Venezuela-born Spaniard made another determined push at Melbourne Park on Thursday, 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 in the early match 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 U.S. Open.
The 26-year-old cut her season short, swapped her rackets for crampons and headed to Tanzania with a friend to climb 5,895 meter (19,340 feet) 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 number 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.