Sofia Kenin Upsets The Odds To Book Australian Open Final Spot
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Ash Barty was unable to deliver when it mattered as she crashed out of the Australian Open at the hands of Sofia Kenin following a 6-7, 5-7 defeat in the semi-finals.
The top seed - who was bidding to become the first Australian woman to reach the final of her home Grand Slam since Wendy Turnbull in 1980 - fluffed her lines.
Kenin produced a very mature performance and she will rise into the world's top 10 when the rankings are published next week.
Few would have seen Barty's defeat coming. The 23-year-old had been hitting her stride in the tournament and she overcame a tough assignment in the last 16 in the form of Alison Riske, who knocked her out in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year.
Having clinched her first major at the French Open last year, Barty had curried favour before the start of the Australian Open in the outright market and she was priced at +700 to win it, while Kenin was a distant outsider at +2500 to reach the final.
Kenin may have described booking her place in her first Slam final as 'surreal', but she maintained her composure on the key points.
Barty choked inexplicably in the searing heat, firstly when she was 6-4 up in the opening set tiebreak and then when serving to take the match to a decider.
Although Barty hit more winners (33) than Kenin (16), she was unable to pin the 21-year-old American who battled tenaciously from the baseline throughout the match and she rattled Barty.
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Saturday's final is certainly the unlikely final as it seemed as if Barty would be taking on the fourth seed Simona Halep, but the Romanian was shocked by Garbine Muguruza.
The Spaniard - who is unseeded at the Australian Open - failed to read the script and she is on the comeback trail as she is through to her first Slam final in two-and-a-half years.
The 26-year-old brought an aggressive brand of tennis to her semi-final victory over Halep as she converted 20 of 30 points at the net and fired 39 winners.
The final between Kenin and Muguruza may not be the glamour final, but it could be a classic nevertheless.
Muguruza's experience means she is trading as the favourite at -175 to notch up her third Slam title while Kenin's best price is +140.