Garbine Muguruza, unseeded at a Grand Slam for the first time since Roland Garros 2014, edged fourth seed Simona Halep in the Australian Open semifinals and is now a win away from getting three of the four majors.
The first set was crazy. Muguruza was the first to go up by breaking Halep in the seventh game and fighting to consolidate for a 5-3 lead. As the 26-year-old Spaniard served for the opening set, Halep broke at love to level to 5-5 and soon even earned two set points, but Muguruza recovered from 15-40 on her serve and forced a tiebreak. The climax of the set was more than thrilling, as both players saved multiple set points, before Muguruza finally prevailed, after winning a 20-shot rally to save a set point at 7-8 in the tiebreak.
In the second set, Halep broke Muguruza in the fifth game and, after putting in a lot of effort, consolidated for a 4-2 lead. Just like the Romanian leveled to 5-5 in the first set, Muguruza did the same in the second set, only that this time we didn’t have a tiebreak, as Muguruza won two more games, capitalizing on her second match point for a 7-6(8) 7-5 victory.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza is through to her first major final since winning 2017 Wimbledon. The former world No.1 will return to the Top 20 and could rise to No.11 if she goes all the way to the title on Saturday. An unseeded player has won the Australian Open on only two occasions in the Open Era: Serena Williams did it in 2007 and Chris O’Neil back in 1978.
Garbine’s opponent in the championship match will be seed No.14 Sofia Kenin, a first-time finalist at a major, who eliminated world No.1 Ashleigh Barty in the semifinal earlier on Thursday. The 21-year-old Kenin leads their H2H 1-0, having defeated Muguruza in three sets at the 2019 China Open.