Barty conqueror’s apology to Australia
AMERICAN Sofia Kenin has apologised to Australian fans for ending the grand slam hopes of Ashleigh Barty at Melbourne Park after her upset win over the world No.1.
Describing the charge into her first major final as a "dream come true", Kenin warned she was not done yet and was ready for the fight in the biggest game of her career.
The 21-year-old triumphed in straight sets against a swell of crowd support for Barty, who was bidding for her first Australian Open crown.
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Kenin knew the crowd was against her, but still loved the atmosphere on centre court and hoped the fans would now get behind her title bid.
"She's such a tough player. Of course, I'd like to first apologise to all of the Australian fans. I know they wanted her to win," Kenin said.
"It's not easy for them. I beat world No.1. I'm so grateful and so happy. She played such a great match. She's a really great player.
"I loved playing in this atmosphere. I love Australia. It has a special place in my heart. Of course, I knew they were cheering for Ash.
"There was some interesting cheers. I liked it. But it wasn't for me. I just try to lock it out and focus on each point.
"(The) atmosphere is amazing. It's why I'm playing. I'm working hard to play at this great stage, great atmosphere. I enjoyed every moment of it. Hopefully on Saturday it will be a lot more for me."
Considered a tennis prodigy from a young age, the Russian-born Kenin was soaking up the moment after her semi-final victory, but said she would quickly refocus for her final on Saturday.
"Of course, this is a lot of emotions right now," Kenin said. "It's fine today. But tomorrow I'm going to start getting ready for the finals.
"I'm not done yet. I'm going to go and do everything I can to get that trophy."
Muguruza peaking at right time
Two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in her off-season and now she has just one more peak to climb to reach the summit at the Australian Open.
And the unseeded Spaniard is thankful she had 48 hours to recover before she faced off against American No.14 seed Sofia Kenin in Saturday's final at Melbourne Park.
Muguruza won through to her fourth grand slam final after triumphing in straight sets against No.4 seed Simona Halep, 7-6 (10-8) 7-5 on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.
It has been a remarkable resurgence at the season-opening grand slam for Muguruza, who is unseeded at a major for the first time since 2014.
Asked if she could have predicted she would be in the final at the beginning of the tournament, the 26-year-old said never thought ahead of her next contest.
"You don't think like that, that's almost two weeks ago," Muguruza said.
"You start day-by-day and that's what I was doing, each match at a time and (I'm) very excited to be in the final and it's a long way to go and I have one more match on Saturday.
"I was thinking keep going and some point you are going to have your opportunity and I was facing Simona so it was going to be a hard match.
"I was hanging in there and fighting with all the energy I had."
After battling in hot conditions on Rod Laver Arena in her semi-final, Muguruza said she would welcome the time to rest and regroup ahead of the final.
"Luckily, I have 48 hours now to recover and get ready for the last match," Muguruza said.
"We train all of our career to be able to play in this court and in this crowd."
The French Open and Wimbledon champion has spoken during the Australian Open about how her off-season trek to Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro had a major impact on her.
"It was a very hard challenge, completely different of what I do (normally)," Muguruza said.
"It's really challenging you physically and mentally to be there, and I was just looking for something fun, different experience outside from tennis.
"I have never done anything similar before. I really like the experience to see myself in the middle of nowhere and, yeah, just having one clear thought just to keep climbing."