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Muguruza surmounts Australian challenge after Kilimanjaro climb

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Melbourne (AFP)

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 number one 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.

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