Sofia Kenin sent shock waves around Melbourne by winning the Australian Open 16 years after esteemed coach Rick Macci was jolted by the same "Sonic Boom" in Florida.

Kenin bolted to her maiden grand slam with a 4-6 6-2 6-2 victory over Garbine Muguruza on Saturday at the age of 21.

The American prodigy took out world number one and home favourite Ash Barty in the semi-final before downing Muguruza in her first major final on Rod Laver Arena.

Not many tipped Kenin to win the first slam of the year, but the Russia-born 14th seed's triumph came as no surprise to Macci ​– who was staggered by her ability and attitude when he gave a first coaching lesson at his academy in Boca Raton.

The United States Professional Tennis Association Hall of Famer told Omnisport: "She came to me at five years old and the very first lesson I gave her, her ability to focus and just the way she was locked in already mentally was really startling.

"For most players that's the last piece of the puzzle, so that was the first the first thing that jumped out at me.

"Even though the racket was almost as big as her, I had her take the ball right off the bounce and she did it so easily, it was innate timing. You can teach people timing, but it can be hard to take in.

"So right after that I'm going 'what is this?' Mentally, there is a focus that I have never seen in a child this young and her hand-eye coordination just to take the ball right off the bounce. I said 'this girl is the scariest little creature I've ever seen'.

"I knew it straight away, then as time went on I said she'd be top 10 in the world by age 20 and win many grand slams, I was a year off but I think it was the age-eligibility rule that held her back a little bit.

"When she started competing, even at aged seven, her thirst for competition was just so uncanny. She was so competitive and she would say 'I never lost, I just ran out of time'.

"Every time she lost, and I had her play boys a lot even though she was a little pip-squeak, the next day or that afternoon she'd want to play them again.

"It was a like a mosquito that wouldn't leave me alone but you want that, you want people to feel pain and want to come back for more.

"To already have that inside of you when are all about the competition, that is how you handle pressure better and that has been in there since five years old, so this doesn't surprise me at all."

Kenin's father, Alex, took his daughter to the Rick Macci Tennis Academy knowing Macci played a huge part in nurturing the talents of the likes of Serena and Venus Williams, Andy Roddick, Jennifer Capriati and Maria Sharapova.

Macci was so struck by the newest major winner's natural talent he gave her a nickname that is very apt given the rapid progress she has made.

"At a young age people were calling her Sofia, Sonia. Just the way she played I combined the two and called her Sonic and then when she picked it up off the bounce it would be boom, so her nickname has always been Sonic Boom," the Ohio native added.

"Here we are a lot of these things the media people can see now on the big stage, this is what was unfolding aged five, six, seven, eight years old."

Russia-born American star Sofia Kenin revealed Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams provided inspiration for her breakthrough Australian Open success.

Kenin, who moved to the United States when she was a child, claimed her first grand slam title on Saturday, fighting back to beat Garbine Muguruza 4-6 6-2 6-2 in the final at Melbourne Park.

The 21-year-old was to leapfrog 23-time major champion Williams to reach number seven in the WTA rankings following her triumph, becoming the top-ranked American player.

Kenin will now join her role model on the USA team for an upcoming Fed Cup qualifier, but she was also keen to highlight her Russian roots and the "feisty" approach she learned from Sharapova, a five-time grand slam winner.

"I definitely think [my Russian heritage] helped me," Kenin told a news conference. "I've looked up to Maria Sharapova, Anna Kournikova. I followed their matches when I was little.

"I feel like I got the feisty [approach]. I saw what it's like. She won a grand slam at 17, Maria, which I remember watching on TV. Yeah, I feel like that definitely helped me.

"I have part of Russian stuff inside me, the fight that I have, trying just to be confident, do what I do best.

"And thank you to my parents for giving me the American dream. [Being the American number one] is exciting. I'm so happy. I was told if I would win, I'd be number seven [in the world].

"It's such an honour. I love representing the US. I just love it. It's like an honour.

"Everything is coming into place, a dream come true. Everything I've done, all the hard work I've been doing is paying off.

"It hasn't sunk in yet. Everything is just still a blur for me. I just can't believe what happened. Yeah, it's just great. I feel like I'm doing some great things for American tennis.

"It's such an honour. I've watched Serena. I've been following her, all the slams she's been winning. It's a special feeling just to be ahead of her.

"I'm just super excited. I can't wait to compete, be on the same team with her in the Fed Cup."

As well as dropping the first set to Muguruza, Kenin recovered from a love-40 deficit on her serve at 2-2 in the decider.

"I'm so proud. Obviously not many people can do that," she said. "I feel like mental toughness has been a huge part. I've worked on that over the course of the years. It's just paying off.

"I knew I had to take my chance. I had to be brave by playing a two-time grand slam champion. All respect to her. She played a really tough match. Every point was such a battle."

Kenin is the 11th different champion in the 13 grand slams since the start of 2017, yet she was hoping to enjoy a period of dominance going forward.

"I would love to. That would be amazing," she said. "Right now, I mean, I still can't believe what just happened. I need to somehow come down and just let it all sink in.

"Hopefully, I can just keep going, build on everything that I've done these past two weeks, just move forward."

Garbine Muguruza dismissed the notion that she is "back", insisting she never "disappeared" after her return to a grand slam final ended in a three-set loss to Sofia Kenin at the Australian Open.  

Former world number one Muguruza won the opening set but was eventually overhauled by red-hot American sensation Kenin 4-6 6-2 6-2 in Melbourne on Saturday.

Unseeded for the year's opening major following a tough run of form, Muguruza looked like a player reborn since reuniting with former coach Conchita Martinez after the pair split two years ago.

But featuring in her first slam final since winning Wimbledon in 2017, Spanish star Muguruza fell short on Rod Laver Arena.

Asked if she felt like she was back, Muguruza told reporters: "Back? Hmm, okay. If people see it because I'm in a grand slam final, that makes sense.

"But I feel like I was playing a lot of tournaments. I was on the tour, guys. I didn't disappear. I was there. Not reaching final rounds, for sure."

After 14th seed Kenin levelled the match, Muguruza had a golden opportunity to break first in the third set.

The two-time major champion earned three break points at love-40 in the fifth game, however, Kenin hit four groundstroke winners and an ace to hold before eventually breaking herself and powering to a first slam success.

"I'm not very happy about my performance," Muguruza said in her news conference. "I think I had to play better today because she came up with a great level. 

"I think at the important moments I didn't find my shots. I think she found her shots, I didn't find my shots. I did fail a little bit lack of energy after so many matches. Physically it was a tough battle out there. 

"It's just a tough moment. Right now it's tough to be happy, although it has been an incredible tournament. You lose a final, but you got to make it to the final to be able to win or lose. I think she played very well."

"I want to be a champion, I want to be number one in the world," a seven-year-old Sofia Kenin told journalist David Kozlowski 14 years ago. 

Kenin has taken Melbourne by storm over the past fortnight, stunning the tennis world by claiming a maiden grand slam title.

The 21-year-old stormed past Garbine Muguruza 4-6 6-2 6-2 to win the Australian Open women's final on Saturday.

But her first major success should not come as a surprise - the American sensation has always dreamed big.

Aside from her comments to Kozlowski, a video of a baby-faced Kenin speaking about idol Andy Roddick had also been doing the rounds leading into her big dance against Muguruza.

Born in Russia before relocating to the United States with her family, a young Kenin confidently boasted to Tennis TV about her skill and ability to go toe-to-toe with Roddick, who retweeted the throwback video.

Kenin - now located in Florida - has maintained that confidence at Melbourne Park.

After upstaging world number one and French Open champion Ash Barty in the semi-finals, having vanquished 15-year-old compatriot Coco Gauff in the fourth round, Kenin followed that tone.

"I always believed I can. Of course, I didn't have a book. I didn't know exactly when. I feel like at this young age, I think it's incredible," Kenin told reporters after booking her spot in a slam final for the first time.

"Not everyone gets to live this moment, live this dream. I'm just really grateful for it. I've worked so hard. I've put all the efforts into my practices, into my fitness. All the efforts I've been doing, it's got me here. It's just paying off and it's like a dream come true for me."

A product of immigrant parents, Kenin's game reflects that - tenacious, gritty and passionate. Fighting for every point, with her father watching proudly from her players' box.

Those qualities were on show against two-time major winner Muguruza, eyeing a first slam trophy since 2017, having saved two set points in each of the first and second sets in the win over Barty.

Down love-40 in the fifth game of the third set, 14th seed Kenin reeled off five successive points by hitting four groundstroke winners and an ace. That deflated Muguruza, who went on to crumble to hand her young opponent the championship following a double-fault.

Kenin is the youngest American slam champion since Serena Williams at the 2002 US Open.

She is also proof that dreams can come true as a new star sparkles on the WTA Tour.

Sofia Kenin was elated and emotional after fulfilling a childhood dream by winning the Australian Open in her grand slam final debut on Saturday.

Kenin became the youngest American major champion since Serena Williams at the 2002 US Open after rallying past former world number one Garbine Muguruza 4-6 6-2 6-2 in Melbourne on Saturday.

The 21-year-old, the youngest Australian Open finalist since Maria Sharapova in 2008, lost a tense opening set, lasting 52 minutes, but lit up Rod Laver Arena with her tenacious approach to blitz Muguruza.

Fronting the crowd during the trophy ceremony, 14th seed Kenin - who upstaged world number one Ash Barty in the semi-final - said: "I'd like to congratulate Garbine on a great match and a great tournament. I'm sure we are going to have many more finals to come in the future.

"I just want to say that my dream has officially come true. I cannot even describe this feeling, it's so emotional and I worked so hard. I'm just so grateful to be standing here – dreams come true. If you have a dream, go for it and it's going to come true.

"I love this tournament. It's such an honour and a privilege to be here and thank you so much – I'm looking forward to coming back here next year. I would like to thank the crowd – this past two weeks has been the best two weeks of my life.

"Last but not least, I'd like to thank my team, my dad, everyone that is there [in the stadium]. Thank you for making this possible, thank you for putting up with me. I can't believe we are here today, we worked so hard, all of us, so I'm grateful from the bottom of my heart.

"I'd also like to thank my mum, who is back home probably watching this speech. I love you mum! Everyone back home, thank you so much for your support. We worked so hard for this."

Muguruza - reborn since reuniting with former coach Conchita Martinez after the pair split two years ago - was impressive from the baseline and at the net, however the unseeded Spanish star faded as the match wore on.

Serving proved Muguruza's downfall, the two-time grand slam champion double-faulting eight times, including on a second championship point to gift Kenin the title.

"Congratulations, Sofia. You played an incredible match and an incredible tournament," said Muguruza, who was eyeing her first slam title since winning Wimbledon in 2017. "You deserve the trophy. I think we are going to see you play more finals, for sure.

"It has been incredible playing out here in this environment. This court brings an energy, the crowd is what makes it special. We play for you guys, that's what makes the show. Thanks for coming."

Sofia Kenin capped her maiden grand slam final with a trophy after rallying past former world number one Garbine Muguruza to win the Australian Open women's final 4-6 6-2 6-2. 

The youngest Australian Open finalist since Maria Sharapova in 2008, the 21-year-old dropped an absorbing first set against two-time major champion Muguruza in Melbourne on Saturday.

However, the tenacious 14th seed battled back to blitz Muguruza, who double faulted on a second championship point to hand Kenin an unforgettable breakthrough win on Rod Laver Arena, making her the youngest American slam champion since Serena Williams at the 2002 US Open.

A player reborn since reuniting with former coach Conchita Martinez after the pair split two years ago, Muguruza looked on track to clinch a first major title since Wimbledon 2017.

A tense opening under the Rod Laver Arena roof went in favour of Muguruza, who was bidding to become just the fourth woman since 2000 to clinch a slam while unseeded after topping 2018 runner-up Simona Halep in the semis.

The opening three games took 16 minutes to complete, though more importantly, Muguruza broke at the third time of asking for a 2-1 lead after an almost nine-minute third game.

Back-to-back double faults threatened to undo Muguruza but the Spanish star overcame the brief wobble to consolidate - her relentless baseline work forcing errors from Kenin.

There was a brilliant 23-shot rally in the sixth game, which included Kenin dropping her racket in disgust, as Muguruza kept her cool to retain the break.

Kenin - who was only broken once during her shock semi-final win over world number one Ash Barty - then saved four break points to avoid going down a double break, having dug herself out of a 0-40 hole to stay within touching distance.

Muguruza had not faced a break point until the eighth game and she double faulted consecutively to put the set back on serve but reclaimed her advantage immediately before the unrelenting Spaniard served it out with 52 minutes on the clock.

Positive and engaged, Kenin was not ready to surrender in the second set as she kept her dream alive, reducing the 15 unforced errors from the opening set to just four in the second while not facing a break point.

Kenin earned a break point in the fourth game and she did not need a second invitation, converting for a 3-1 lead - Muguruza struggling to maintain her charge as her first serve percentages decreased.

Showing plenty of emotion, Kenin spiked the ball into the ground after holding for a 5-2 advantage before levelling the match and forcing a deciding set.

Muguruza did not hit the ball as crisply in the second set, her winners dropping from 15 to eight, while she only served at 43 per cent as she received treatment heading into the finale.

She threatened to strike first, racing out to a 0-40 lead in the fifth game, but Kenin reeled off five successive points, hitting four winners and an ace to stay on serve.

Muguruza's inability to utilise those three break points came back to haunt her after the red-hot Kenin took a 4-2 lead in the next game - an advantage she never relinquished as the former crumbled dramatically.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Kenin [14] bt Muguruza 4-6 6-2 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS   
Kenin – 28/23
Muguruza – 32/45

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS   
Kenin – 2/0
Muguruza – 9/8

BREAK POINTS WON  
Kenin – 5/6
Muguruza – 2/12

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Kenin – 74
Muguruza – 57

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Kenin – 64/65
Muguruza – 74/31

TOTAL POINTS  
Kenin – 92
Muguruza – 77

Sofia Kenin has broken through for her first grand slam title, the American 14th seed beating former world number one Garbine Muguruza 4-6 6-2 6-2 in the Australian Open women's final.

Garbine Muguruza's climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro should give her belief nothing is impossible on the court, according to coach Conchita Martinez.

The two-time grand slam champion scaled the highest peak in Africa during the off-season, having endured a difficult 2019 that saw her begin this year outside the world's top 30.

But, unseeded at the Australian Open, Muguruza has impressively reached the final, in which American Sofia Kenin awaits on Saturday.

Martinez, who reunited with Muguruza ahead of this season having helped the Spaniard win Wimbledon in 2017, said the 26-year-old's decision to climb Mount Kilimanjaro would hold her in good stead.

"I think the mental part, you have to stay very tough. I don't know because I haven't done it," she told a news conference on Friday.

"Her stories, it's super cold where you can barely rest and you have to continue walking, where you had to overcome, I don't know, your fears and also be strong to continue.

"I think that gives you something mentally, that's for sure. I think she felt great about doing that. Not maybe everybody can reach the summit.

"She was stubborn enough to get there and she did it. I think that gives you something on the court where you might see something that is impossible, but everything is possible if you have the right mentality. She has the right mentality."

Now, Muguruza is a win away from achieving another fine feat – clinching a first hard-court grand slam title.

Standing in her way is Kenin, who she lost to in three sets in Beijing last year, and Martinez said being in control would be the key for Muguruza.

"She's a very good player. She's young. She's improving. I've been seeing her when I was working with [Karolina] Pliskova. I think she played her at the US Open 2018," she said.

"Last year I think she played her three times. I was with her a couple of times. She is a great player, very good fighter. She strikes the ball good. She is aggressive.

"I mean, the key is going to be to stay with her, to stay aggressive, try to be the one in command. It's not going to be easy, but hopefully she can do it.

"She's definitely improving. I mean, you can see over the time where she is. Like I said, it's not a one-time shot. A lot of work behind it. She's doing good."

Garbine Muguruza can join a small group of women to have won a grand slam while unseeded since 2000 when she faces Sofia Kenin in the Australian Open final.

A two-time grand slam champion, Muguruza has put together a fine run in Melbourne, where 14th seed Kenin awaits in the final on Saturday.

A French Open and Wimbledon winner, the Spaniard can add a first hard-court slam to her collection, having previously never been beyond the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.

Ranked 32nd in the world, the former world number one is aiming to win the grand slam while unseeded.

We look at the unseeded women to have won a grand slam since 2000 ahead of the Australian Open final.

2007 Australian Open – Serena Williams

Having missed most of 2006 due to a knee injury, Williams entered the 2007 tournament in Melbourne as the world number 81. The American cruised through the opening two rounds before overcoming fifth seed Nadia Petrova. In between wins over seeds Jelena Jankovic and Nicole Vaidisova, Williams survived her biggest scare, coming from a break down in the final set to edge Shahar Peer 8-6 in the third. In the final, Williams dispatched Maria Sharapova to win an eighth grand slam title.

2009 US Open – Kim Clijsters

After retiring, Clijsters gave birth to her daughter in early 2008 and needed a wildcard to enter the 2009 US Open, her first grand slam since Melbourne in 2007. The Belgian's biggest early tests came against Marion Bartoli and Venus Williams, surviving in three sets, before a quarter-final win over Li Na. Clijsters beat Serena Williams in an extraordinary semi-final during which the American threatened a linesperson over a foot-fault call, before overcoming Caroline Wozniacki in the final for her second major title.

2017 French Open – Jelena Ostapenko

Ostapenko was in fine form on clay heading into Roland Garros, where the Latvian stunned the tennis world. Untroubled early in the tournament, Ostapenko then played four consecutive three-setters on her way to the title, beating Sam Stosur, Wozniacki, Timea Bacsinszky and Simona Halep. Having turned 20 just days earlier, Ostapenko came from a set and 3-0 down in the second in the final against pre-tournament favourite Halep. She became the first Latvian to win a grand slam singles title, the crown also her first on the WTA Tour.

2017 US Open – Sloane Stephens

The highly rated Stephens, then ranked 83rd in the world, powered her way to the title in New York in 2017. The American had reached a semi-final (Australian Open) and quarter-final (Wimbledon) in 2013 before failing to go beyond the fourth round of a major leading into the US Open in 2017. A foot injury had sidelined her for almost a year after the 2016 Olympics, but Stephens stepped up on her return. She battled past the likes of Dominika Cibulkova, Julia Goerges, Anastasija Sevastova and Venus Williams before hammering Madison Keys in the final for her maiden major title.

Sofia Kenin stunned world number one Ash Barty to reach her first grand slam final at the Australian Open but it came as no surprise to the American, who always believed. 

Kenin spoiled the 'Barty Party' on Thursday, the 14th seed upstaging the Australian star 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 in sweltering heat in Melbourne, where the temperature soared towards 40 degrees Celsius.

The 21-year-old Kenin, who will meet two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza in Saturday's decider, became the first American other than a Williams sister to progress to the Australian Open final since Lindsay Davenport in 2005.

Kenin also became the youngest player to defeat a world number one at the tournament since 2008, when Maria Sharapova knocked out Justine Henin in the quarter-finals. 

"I always believed I can. Of course, I didn't have a book. I didn't know exactly when. I feel like at this young age, I think it's incredible," Kenin, who saved two set points in both the first and second sets, told reporters.

"Not everyone gets to live this moment, live this dream. I'm just really grateful for it. I've worked so hard. I've put all the efforts into my practices, into my fitness. All the efforts I've been doing, it's got me here. It's just paying off and it's like a dream come true for me."

Kenin added: "I'm not shocked. It's a dream come true for me. I've always dreamed about this. Of course, I believed in myself. 

"I was playing, I knew I was in the semi-final. It was just great. I'm so happy I was able to share the court with Ash.

"After the match, of course it's pretty emotional. It's the finals. It's something different. It's surreal. [I'm] so grateful for it."

Garbine Muguruza advanced to her first Australian Open final after the former world number one outlasted 2018 runner-up Simona Halep in Melbourne on Thursday.

After struggling following her 2017 Wimbledon triumph, Spanish star Muguruza has looked like a player reborn since reuniting with former coach Conchita Martinez. 

Muguruza - who split from Martinez two years ago - continued her fine form after upstaging fourth seed Halep 7-6 (10-8) 7-5 in oppressive heat at Melbourne Park.

Unseeded for the first time at a slam since the 2014 French Open, two-time major champion Muguruza will meet 14th seed Sofia Kenin in Saturday's final.

With the Rod Laver Arena roof open, despite the scorching conditions as the heat stress scale sat just below the required five to trigger a suspension of play and roof closure, Muguruza and Halep slogged it out from the baseline.

Muguruza clinched the first break in the seventh game and had the chance to serve out the set at 5-4, but Halep reeled off three straight games to force a tie-break.

The tie-break was a rollercoaster as Muguruza went from leading 3-0 to trailing 4-3, while the pair both had set points before the former won a 20-shot rally to eventually close it out.

It was the first time Halep, who was hospitalised due to dehydration following a gruelling showdown against Caroline Wozniacki in the 2018 Australian Open final as tournament organisers were criticised for not closing the roof in hot weather, had dropped a set at this year's event.

Clearly frustrated after losing the set, Halep regrouped and broke Muguruza to take a 2-1 lead, only to hand it straight back as the pair exchanged three consecutive breaks.

Halep had the chance to level the match at 5-4, but just like Muguruza in the first set, failed to do so as the latter broke at the fourth time of asking.

It opened the door for Muguruza, who won four successive games as Halep fell at the semi-final stage of a major for the first time since the 2015 US Open.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Muguruza bt Halep [4] 7-6 (10-8) 7-5

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS   
Muguruza – 39/44
Halep – 20/23

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS   
Muguruza – 10/2
Halep – 2/1

BREAK POINTS WON  
Muguruza – 4/14
Halep – 3/13

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Muguruza – 59
Halep – 72

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Muguruza – 71/42
Halep – 62/44

TOTAL POINTS  
Muguruza – 90
Halep – 87

It was all about perspective for world number one Ash Barty, who spoke to the media holding her baby niece after sensationally losing in the Australian Open semi-finals. 

Barty had a great opportunity to become the first Australian woman since 1980 to reach the final in Melbourne, however, the top seed was upstaged 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 by Sofia Kenin on Thursday.

All eyes were on Barty throughout the tournament at Melbourne Park, having arrived as the WTA's top-ranked player, WTA Finals winner and French Open champion.

Barty was unable to go all the way amid the hype, but the Australian star was in good spirits afterwards.

"Perspective is a beautiful thing," said Barty, who arrived for her news conference with special guest Olivia. "Life is a beautiful thing. She brought a smile to my face as soon as I came off the court. I got to give her a hug. It's all good. It's all good."

Barty and 14th seed Kenin were forced to endure scorching conditions, with the temperature just short of 40 degrees Celsius.

The Rod Laver Arena roof remained opened throughout as the heat stress scale hovered towards five, which would have meant a suspension in play and roof closure.

Barty, though, refused to use the weather as an excuse after wasting two set points in each of the first and second sets.

"I've grown up in Queensland. I've played in summers, played in the sun a long time. I know Sofia has also grown up in Florida," Barty said. "Everyone is playing in the same conditions. It didn't help or hinder me. It kind of is what it is."

Barty added: "I think [it was] a match where I didn't feel super comfortable. I felt like my first plan wasn't working. I couldn't execute the way that I wanted. I tried to go to B and C. I think I had to dig and find a way. 

"I mean, I'm two points away from winning that in straight sets, which is disappointing. Knowing I had to fight and scrap, I still gave myself a chance to win the match."

She continued: "It's disappointing. But it's been a hell of a summer. I mean, if you would have told me three weeks ago that we would have won a tournament in Adelaide, made the semi-finals of the Australian Open, I'd take that absolutely every single day of the week."

Sofia Kenin advanced to her first grand slam final after stunning world number one Ash Barty 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 in scorching heat at the Australian Open. 

Barty was looking to become the first Australian woman to reach the decider in Melbourne since Wendy Turnbull in 1980, however, the top seed wasted chances as she lost with the temperature approaching 40 degrees celsius on Thursday.

Kenin, who saved a pair of set points in each of the first and second sets, spoiled the party to become the first American other than a Williams sister to progress to the Australian Open final since Lindsay Davenport in 2005.

The 21-year-old - set to face either 2018 runner-up Simona Halep or Garbine Muguruza - also became the youngest player to defeat a world number one at the tournament since 2008, when Maria Sharapova upstaged Justine Henin in the quarter-final. 

It was all power and prowess to start the semi-final, with not much separating the pair in scorching conditions in Melbourne, where the Rod Laver Arena roof remained opened throughout.

Barty - who had won the opening set in all five of her previous encounters with the American - threatened to break serve in the sixth game, but Kenin saved all three opportunities.

There was a stunning sequence of play in the following game, when Barty was left scrambling as she chased down a drop shot and then sprinted back to get to a lob before defending desperately - Kenin eventually forehanding into the net and dropping her racquet in shock.

Barty, who hit 22 winners to Kenin's 12 in the first set, was then left to rue a missed opportunity after opting not to challenge a call at 30-30 in the 12th game. Replays showed the ball was out as Kenin forced a tie-break.

And it was a bad decision after Kenin saved a pair of set points in the tie-break before stunning French Open winner Barty following 59 minutes of energy-sapping tennis.

However, Barty bounced straight back in the second set, claiming the first break of the match in the third game for a 2-1 lead - Kenin spraying a forehand long.

Barty looked to be cruising towards a third and deciding set, bringing up two set points, but Kenin fended off both and then sensationally broke to level at 5-5 before going on to silence the Australian crowd.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Sofia Kenin [14] bt Ash Barty [1] 7-6 (8-6) 7-5

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS   
Kenin – 16/25
Barty –  33/36

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS   
Kenin – 2/1
Barty – 8/1

BREAK POINTS WON  
Kenin – 2/4
Barty – 1/4

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Kenin – 70
Barty – 50

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Kenin – 69/63
Barty – 80/50

TOTAL POINTS  
Kenin – 81
Barty – 78

Garbine Muguruza emphasised the importance of patience after the two-time grand slam champion reached the Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

After struggling for form following her 2017 Wimbledon triumph, former world number one Muguruza has looked like a player reborn in Melbourne since reuniting with former coach Conchita Martinez.

Muguruza – who split from Martinez two years ago – advanced to her first semi-final since the 2018 French Open after outlasting 30th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena midweek.

Unseeded for the first time at a slam since 2014, Muguruza was asked if her comeback was like returning from a coma and the 26-year-old Spanish star replied: "I think a 'coma' is a pretty strong comment. I would say I think those years were less successful if you compare them to my previous years.  

"That's how I see it. I don't see it at all as a coma. I just think you struggle as a player, and there are moments where things don't go your way. You just have to be patient and go through the rough moments, just hang in there and it will come back again."

Muguruza, who next meets 2018 runner-up Simona Halep on Thursday for a place in the women's decider, added: "It is always special to get deep in a grand slam. Very excited to be playing tomorrow [Thursday] again. It's a very long tournament. You have very tough opponents, not being seeded as well.

"I'm just happy that I'm going through every match. We'll have to see it more."

Quizzed on the pressures of winning a slam and continuing to challenge, Muguruza told reporters: "I think people forget how hard it is, and expect always the top players to deal with that. It is very hard. 

"I think once you have done it, it definitely gives you a certain confidence that you can handle two weeks' competition, grand slam, playing many matches. Not a lot of people can say that they have done it.

"In my case, I know it's where I feel the most motivated. I just don't think too much about it. I'm just happy to be here, excited to see how far I can go."

Simona Halep said she is "more confident" thanks to the experience of winning two grand slams as the in-form former world number one looks to add the Australian Open title to her growing collection.    

Halep is flying high in Melbourne following Wednesday's quarter-final demolition of Anett Kontaveit - the former French Open and Wimbledon winner claiming a 6-1 6-1 victory in just 53 minutes.

Yet to drop a set at Melbourne Park, Halep was beaten in the 2018 Australian Open final against Caroline Wozniacki but the Romanian star is on track to go one step further this year.

Halep – who ended her wait for a maiden major at the 2018 French Open following three losing slam finals – was asked if it feels easier to win now and the fourth seed told reporters: "It's different in my mind. It's not easier at all. 

"You still feel the pressure. You still feel the heaviness of this tournament.

"I just feel more confident and I feel like I'm able to do it. It's just a feeling that you don't see this trophy is impossible anymore. This is what I'm feeling about the grand slams now."

Halep added: "Any grand slam, it's a priority. I will not just choose one. But, of course, it's going to be great if I will be able to win one on hard court."

It was a devastating display from Halep on Rod Laver Arena, where the fourth seed reeled off 11 consecutive games to blitz her Estonian opponent under the bright Melbourne sun.

Kontaveit was powerless to stop the onslaught as Halep looks ahead to a semi-final against fellow two-time slam champion and former world number one, Garbine Muguruza.

"Perfection doesn't exist, but I'm very happy with the way I played. I felt great on court," Halep said. "I was moving great. I felt the ball, like, really, really good. It was a great match."

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