American Sofia Kenin won an unexpected Grand Slam title out of the box on Saturday, defeating Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 to claim the the Australian Open crown..
The Florida-based 21-year-old who picked up a racquet at age three and was tipped for a pro career at age six, brought the expectations to fruition with a two-hour command performance against a two-time champion at the majors.
The victory denied Muguruza a hat-trick of Grand Slam titles after winning Roland Garros in 2016 and Wimbledon a year later.
The rattled Spaniard lost on her eighth double-fault after saving two match points for her opponent.
Kenin, who lifted the title in only her 12th career Grand Slam, was in shock after her unexpected victory; she will rise to seventh in the world and take over the top US ranking from Serena Williams.
“This is my first speech, I’ll try my best,” the remarkably composed young winner said. “My dream has officially come true, I can’t event describe the feeling.
“I’m so emotional, we’ve worked so hard. If you have a dream, go fo it – they can come true.
“Garbine played a great match and tournament,, I’m sure we will have more finals in the future.
“It’s such and honour and to be here. These past two weeks have been the best ones of my life.”
Kenin reached the final with her defeat of Australia’s world No. 1 Ash Barty in the semis. Muguruza, currently ranked 32nd after several years of poor form, reached No. 1 in autumn, 2017, holding the spot for a month.
“I’ll keep it short, this is very emotional,” the 25-year-old Spaniard said, “Sofia played an incredible match.
“You deserve the trophy, you will play more finals for sure.”
Muguruza was the first unseeded player to reach the final here in 13 years.
She failed to take advantage on repeated occasions, converting on only two of a dozen break points.
The Spaniard managed 32 winner to the 28 of Kenin; but Muguruza slumped to 45 unforced errors.
Muguruza, who beat Top 10 players Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and reached the final with a defeat of fellow former No. 1 Simona Halep,
Kenin dropped the opening set but hardly let that bother her under the roof of the Rod Laver arena on a rainy night.
The Moscow-born daughter of a tennis coach and former journeyman player began her comeback with a break for 3-1 in the second set and squared the evening on her first set point four games later against the experience Spaniard who owns Wimbledon and Roland Garros trophies.
Kenin opened up the match open in the third set, breaking Muguruza for 4-2 and climbing to within touching distance, 5-2.
The unseeded Spaniard’s nerves began to fail as she ended her title quest on a double fault.