Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Kenin upsets No. 1 Barty to reach first Grand Slam final

Sofia Kenin chats with her father and coach, Alex, after winning in the quarter-
finals of the 2018 Berkeley (Calif.) Challenger. Kenin went on to capture the title.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Only 18 months after winning the Berkeley (Calif.) title in her last Challenger, Sofia Kenin reached her first Grand Slam final.
   The 14th-seeded Kenin, a Moscow-born American, eliminated top-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia 7-6 (6), 7-5 tonight in the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Kenin won the last four points of the tiebreaker, saving two set points, and the last three games of the second set, breaking serve twice and erasing two more set points, as the temperature topped 100 degrees (38 Celsius).
   Kenin won NorCal Challenger singles titles in three consecutive years – Sacramento in 2016 at age 17, Stockton and Berkeley.
   Kenin pocketed $9,199 for winning the Berkeley title. The Australian Open champion will collect $2,853,100, and the runner-up will take home $1,430,012. Regardless of the outcome, the 21-year-old Kenin will crack the top 10 for the first time in Monday's rankings.
   Barty was trying to become the first Aussie, male or female, to win the Australian Open since Chris O'Neil captured the women's title in 1978.
   Kenin, the youngest Australian Open finalist since 20-year-old Maria Sharapova in 2008, will play unseeded Garbine Muguruza. ESPN will televise Saturday's match live at 12:30 a.m. California time and taped at 2 p.m.
   Muguruza, 26, topped fourth-seeded Simona Halep 7-6 (8), 7-5 in a spectacular baseline battle. Muguruza survived four set points in the first set en route to her first Grand Slam final since she won Wimbledon in 2017. Both Muguruza and Halep have won two major singles titles – Wimbledon and the French Open.
   Kenin is 1-0 against Muguruza, winning 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 in the first round at Beijing last September. Even with a loss in the final, Kenin will rise six spots to No. 9.
   In the men's semifinals, second seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic will face third-seeded Roger Federer on Thursday at 12:30 a.m., and fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem will play seventh-seeded Alexander Zverev on Friday at 12:30 a.m. ESPN will televise both matches.

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