Melbourne, Jan 30 (IANS) Unseeded Garbine Muguruza stunned fourth seed Simona Halep on Thursday to set up an Australian Open final clash with Sofia Kenin.
Spaniard Muguruza fought back from behind in both sets to defeat favourite Halep and reach her maiden Australian Open final with a 7-6 (10/8), 7-5 verdict at the Rod Laver Arena.
The 26-year-old is the first unseeded player to reach the women’s final since Belgium’s Justine Henin in 2010.
In the other semifinal, American Sofia Kenin pulled off a shock win over local favourite and top-seeded Ashleigh Barty 7-6 (6), 7-5.
At just 21, Kenin had never gone past the fourth round at a Grand Slam in her 11 main-draw appearances before this tournament.
“I wasn’t thinking I was down, at some point you’ll have your opportunities. I knew facing Simona it was going to be a hard match. I was hanging in there and fighting with all the energy I had,” Muguruza was quoted as saying by Australian Open’s official website after the match.
“You don’t think like that. That’s almost two weeks ago. You go day by day and that’s what I was doing each match at a time. I’m very excited to be in the final, it’s a long way to go and I have one more match on Saturday,” said the two-time Grand Slam champion.
Meanwhile, Kenin said it is a dream come true for her. “It’s a dream come true for me,” said Kenin as quoted by Australian Open’s official website.
“It’s surreal. I always believed I can. I didn’t know exactly when. I feel like at this young age, I think it’s incredible. Not everyone gets to live this moment, live this dream. I’m just really grateful for it. I believed I could win even though I had two set points down in the first.
“I was telling myself, ‘I believe in myself. If I lose the set, I’m still going to come out and believe’. Of course, some things didn’t go my way with the challenges and some great shots she came up with. But I didn’t let that stop me. I knew I needed to serve well. I feel like I had a clear mindset on how I want to play her.”
On her opponent, she said: “She’s such a tough player,” said Kenin.
“Of course, I’d like to first apologise to all of the Australian fans. I know they wanted her to win. It’s not easy for them. There was some interesting cheers. I liked it. But it wasn’t for me. I just try to lock it out and focus on each point.”