Sofia Kenin stuns home favourite and world No 1 Ashleigh Barty in straight sets to reach her first ever Grand Slam final at the Australian Open
- Sofia Kenin beat Ashleigh Barty in straight sets to reach the Australian Open final
- The American stunned the home favourite in straight sets winning 7-6 (6) 7-5
- An edgy Barty had two set points in both sets but could not convert any of them
- Kenin will face either Simona Halep or Garbine Muguruza in Saturday’s final
Ash Barty cradled her 12-week-old niece as she tried to shrug off the acute disappointment of ending Australia’s 42-year wait for a homegrown women’s winner at their Open.
Instead of Barty carrying the nation’s hopes into Saturday’s championship match there will be the unlikely final of No 14 seed Sofia Kenin against former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.
The Moscow-born, Florida-raised Kenin broke local hearts by fighting off set points in both sets to outpoint world number one Barty 7-5 7-5 in an hour and three quarters on a boiling hot day which saw some matches on outside courts suspended.
Sofia Kenin has stunned home favourite Ashleigh Barty to reach her first grand slam final
Muguruza, whose form had slumped sufficiently for her only to be ranked 32 coming in, produced an inspired performance in difficult conditions to defeat Simona Halep 7-6 7-5.
Barty came into the post-match press conference with her niece as a way of putting things into perspective, saying ‘This is what life is all about. She brought a smile to my face as soon as I came off the court.’
She denied that the pressure of expectation had got to her, but had to acknowledge that she could easily have won in straight sets.
The American stunned the home favourite in straight sets winning 7-6 (6) 7-5
‘I’ve been in a Grand Slam semifinal before,’ she said. ‘Yes, it’s different at home. I enjoyed the experience. I love being out there. I’ve loved every minute of playing in Australia over the last month.
‘I could have had an opportunity to go one more match, but we didn’t quite get that today.’
Kenin, a ball of intensity, believes that her win over Serena Williams at the French Open last year was the turning point of her career.
World No 1 Barty (right) congratulates Kenin after their semi-final on Thursday
Barty cradled her 12-week-old niece in the post-match press conference on Thursday
‘It all kind of fell into place after that,’ she said.
Muguruza, now coached by another former Wimbledon winner in Conchita Martinez, beat reigning SW19 champion Halep with a superb all-court performance.
She saved three set points before winning the tiebreak 10-8 and then came back from 3-5 down in the second to win the last four games.