Melbourne, 30 January 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Spain’s Garbine Muguruza has won a battle of former number ones, defeating fourth seed Simona Halen 7-6 (10-8), 7-5 to reach her first Australian Open final.
Spain’s Muguruza, who competed unseeded for the first time since 2014, got the first break on 3-3 thanks to her 12th winner, but the Romanian fourth seed broke back when it mattered most as Muguruza served for the opener, bringing things back to 5-5, with a tiebreak eventually needed to break the impasse.
Both players got chances to take the lead, but eventually it was the Spanish 26-year-old who came out on top after 67 minutes of play. Three consecutive breaks led to Helep serving to stay in the match on 5-4, but Muguruza kept her under pressure, converting her fourth break point in the game to tie things up.
After a convincing hold, Muguruza got Halep on the ropes after earning two match points. The Romanian defused the first one with a winning backhand, but she closed the following rally with a ball in the net as she missed a second Melbourne final, with Muguruza instead now playing American Sofia Kenin on Saturday.
World number 15 Sofia Kenin upset top seed Ash Barty 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 on her own home soil in extremely hot conditions to reach her first career slam final at the Australian Open.
In the opener, the 23-year-old Australian wasted three shots at a break on 3-2, putting two slice backhands in the net and a forehand return long.
Barty did not get another chance to take the lead, and offered Kenin no looks at all. In the tiebreak she wasted a 4-2 lead and then two set point chances, with the American converting her lone shot at a lead to take the first set in just under an hour.
After 69 minutes of play Barty pocketed the first break of the match and consolidated it on her serve for a 3-1 lead. The world number one had two set points on 5-4, but Kenin voided one with a winner and Barty hit a forehand long to waste the second.