Melbourne, Jan 30 : World No 1 Ash Barty crashed out in the semifinals of the Australian Open on Thursday, setting the stage for a final between American Sofia Kenin and Spain's Garbine Muguruza. Kenin beat Barty, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5, while Muguruza upset Romanian fifth seed, Simona Halep, 7-6 (10-8), 7-5. Rod Laver Arena was a barbeque on the day, with temperatures up to 37 degrees celsius sapping the energy out of competitors as they battled for a place in the final two.
Kenin proved too tough a competitor for local hope, Barty, who despite having the backing of the home crowd, struggled to put her plans into action. "I think 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," Barty said after the match.
"I have to give credit where credit's due. Sofia came out and played aggressively on those important points and deserved to win." Meanwhile, despite a flawless tournament from Halep -- who up until Thursday had not lost a single set -- the ball just didn't swing her way when it counted most against Muguruza. Both women were chasing a third Grand Slam, each with one Wimbledon and one French Open win to their names. Early on the Romanian's dogged determination seemed to shut Muguruza down every chance she got.
Towards the end of the first set, Muguruza won just one point in a string of 14, as Halep scrambled back from a break down to force a tiebreak. Even after Muguruza won the first set, Halep continued to deny her an edge in the second, fiercely fighting to save her own serve and in the blink of an eye, she had broken the Spaniard instead. But Muguruza showed that she had fight in her as well, taking a crucial break at 4-5 down to bring the win back into her grasp and break once more to seal the victory. She will now meet Kenin in the final, the first-ever Grand Slam final for the 21-year-old American, who said that she was not shocked to have made it as far as she did.
"I'm not shocked. It's a dream come true for me. I've always dreamed about this," Kenin said. Muguruza was also remaining calm and focused ahead of the showdown which takes place on Saturday evening local time. "Luckily I have 48 hours to recover and get ready for the last match," she said, "we train all our career to get ready for this." (Xinhua)