Melbourne - Unheralded American Sofia Kenin stunned world No 1 Ashleigh
Barty to end home hopes at the Australian Open on Thursday.
Barty had sent Australian expectations soaring of a first home-grown
winner since 1978, but aggressive 14th seed Kenin saved two set points
in each set to win 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 and battle into a final against
Spain's Muguruza, a two-time Major-winner but out of the seedings
after a form slump, scrapped her way to a 7-6 (10/8), 7-5 win over
reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep.
Moscow-born Kenin, 21, looked stunned at reaching her first Grand
Slam final, at a tournament where she has often gone unnoticed while
fellow Americans Serena Williams and 15-year-old Coco Gauff hogged the
"I'm just speechless, I honestly can't believe this. I've dreamed
about this moment since I was five years old... I've worked so hard to
get here," said Kenin, who was a baby when her family moved to America
with just a few hundred dollars to her name.
"She came up with some really great shots. I knew she wasn't going to
give it up to me - I really had to fight out here. There's a reason
she's number one."
Kenin's win came on a day when temperatures hit 38 Celsius (100.4
Fahrenheit), prompting play to be suspended on outside courts -
following earlier problems with bushfire smoke, downpours, wind and even
muddy rain at the season's opening Major.
In the second semi-final, former world number one Muguruza came from
behind in both sets to upset Halep and confirm she's back at her best
after being unable to string two wins together in the second half of
"I wasn't thinking that I was down, I was thinking keep going and at
some stage you're going to have an opportunity," said the Spaniard.
"Luckily I have 48 hours now to recover and get ready for the last
match, we train all of our career to be able to play on this court and
in (front of) this crowd."