Sofia Kenin advanced to her first grand slam final after stunning world No. 1 Ash Barty 7-6(6), 7-5 in scorching heat at the Australian Open on Thursday.
Barty was looking to become the first Australian woman to reach the decider in Melbourne since Wendy Turnbull in 1980, but the top seed wasted chances on a day the temperature approaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
Kenin, who saved a pair of set points in each set, 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.
Clutch Kenin@SofiaKenin collects a 7-6(6) 7-5 win over world No. 1 Barty to reach her first Grand Slam final and become the youngest Melbourne finalist since 2008.#AO2020 | #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/vPxrtFzgZU
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 30, 2020
The 21-year-old Kenin, who will face 2018 runner-up Simona Halep or Garbine Muguruza in the final, also became the youngest player to defeat a world No. 1 at the tournament since 2008, when Maria Sharapova upstaged Justine Henin in the quarterfinals.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Dates, TV channels for every match of the tournament
It was all power and prowess to start the semifinal, with not much separating the pair under the Rod Laver Arena roof.
Barty, who had won the opening set in all five of her previous encounters with Kenin, 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, with 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 Barty following 59 minutes of energy-sapping tennis.
Barty bounced right back in the second set, though, claiming the first break of the match in the third game for a 2-1 lead after Kenin sprayed a forehand long.
Barty looked to be cruising toward 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.