Sofia Kenin had never advanced past the fourth round at a major. Garbine Muguruza is a two-time major champion who entered this year’s Australian Open unseeded.
And on Saturday, the two will square off for the Australian Open title.
Both players won their respective semifinal matches in straight sets on Thursday, as the 14th seeded Kenin ousted Australian and top-seed Ashleigh Barty 7-6(6), 7-5, while Muguruza defeated fourth-seed Simona Halep 7-6(8), 7-5.
“I knew it was a tough match. 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,” said Kenin. “Yeah, I was fighting. I left everything out all on the court, so it paid off.”
Kenin saved multiple set points in the tiebreaker, and fell behind a break in the second set, but the 21-year-old continued to battle. She saved two more set points and broke Barty as she was serving for the set at 5-4, and rattled off the next two games after that to close out the win and book her spot in the championship.
“I believed I could win even though I had two set points down in the first and second,” said Kenin. “I could literally feel, I was telling myself, I believe in myself. If I lose the set, I’m still going to come out and believe. Yeah, I really did a great job with it. I didn’t give up.”
Muguruza, a former champion at the French Open and Wimbledon, advanced to her first Australian Open final with her win over Halep.
“Definitely the mission is to get away from here with a big trophy,” said Muguruza. “Big or small celebration, it’s an incredible achievement. It really depends on how you’re feeling. I believe in myself that I have what it takes to play these kinds of matches and to be on this stage.”
Kenin and Muguruza have played just once before, a Kenin victory in Beijing last year.
“I think she is playing great,” Muguruza said of her finals’ opponent. “I think since awhile ago she’s just progressing up in the rankings and in the results. So I think she deserves to be in the final with the tennis she has been showing.”