Muguruza v Kenin in unlikely Open final

Darren Walton
Unseeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza has made the Australian Open final after beating Simona Halep

Garbine Muguruza and Sofia Kenin will clash in one of the more unlikely Australian Open finals after fashioning two stirring upsets on a dramatic afternoon at Melbourne Park.

Rod Laver Arena was barely half full for Muguruza's fighting 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 win over Wimbledon champion Simona Halep after Kenin broke Australian hearts with a sobering straight-sets victory over misfiring world No.1 Ashleigh Barty.

The shell-shocked crowd piled out after Kenin, the 14th seed but with credentials much better than that, saved four set points - two in each set - to stun Barty 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 in blazing heat.

But while the two scorelines were identical, their winners' celebrations couldn't have been more stark.

Kenin was overjoyed, almost disbelieving, after snapping Barty's nine-match summer winning streak to reach her maiden grand slam final.

"Honestly, I'm so speechless. I honestly can't believe this. I've dreamed about this moment since I was five years old," said the Moscow-born Floridian, now 21.

The resurgent Muguruza was more circumspect.

Unseeded for the first time at a slam for the first time in almost six years, the former Wimbledon and French Open champion was keeping a lid on her emotions.

"You start day by day. That's what I was doing - each match at a time," the 26-year-old said, having arrived two weeks ago with modest expectations.

"I'm very excited to be in the final but it's a long way to go and I have one more match on Saturday."

But like Kenin, Muguzura also fought back from 5-3 down in the second set to reel off four straight games and the match against Halep, who had stormed to the last four without dropping a set.

"I wasn't thinking that I was down. I was thinking to keep going, at some point you will have your opportunity," Muguruza said.

"I know I was facing Simona so I know it was going to be a hard match and I was just hanging in there and fighting with all the energy I had."

Contesting her fourth grand slam final, 26-year-old Muguruza beat Kenin in three sets in their only previous encounter, last October in Beijing.